(NaturalNews) The traditional Chinese remedy known as Xuezhikang can drastically improve the recovery of patients after a heart attack- -- including by lowering the risk of repeat attacks - according to a study conducted by researchers from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and published in the American Journal of Cardiology.
Xuezhikang is derived from red yeast rice, which is sold over-the-counter and has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine as a treatment for circulatory disorders. But study co-author David M. Capuzzi emphasized that the Xuezhikang used in his experiment is not the same as over-the-counter red yeast rice.
"People in the United States should know that the commercially available over-the-counter supplement found in your average health food store is not what was studied here," Capuzzi said. "Those over-the-counter supplements are not regulated, so exact amounts of active ingredient are unknown and their efficacy has not been studied yet."
"I do not recommend that people use such over-the-counter preparations since these have not been tested for safety and effectiveness," he said.
Researchers conducted the study on 3,986 men and 884 women in China who had survived a heart attack but still had high cholesterol. The participants discontinued the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs for the study period, which averaged 4.5 years, and were instead assigned to take either a Xuezhikang capsule or a placebo two times per day.
Those taking Xuezhikang had a 45 percent lower risk of repeat heart attacks compared with those taking the placebo. Their rate of procedures to clear blocked arteries (such as bypass surgery or angioplasty) was reduced by one-third, as was their risk of death from cardiovascular causes or their risk of death in general. Their risk of death from cancer was reduced by two-thirds.
"It's very exciting," Capuzzi said, "because this is a natural product and had very few adverse side effects, including no abnormal blood changes."