Vitamin C and Risk of Death From Stroke and Coronary Heart Disease in Cohorts of Elderly People

Seven hundred and thirty men and women were evaluated by a 7 day dietary record who had no history of cardiovascular disease. In these elderly subjects the mortality from stroke was highest among those with the lowest vitamin C. Those in the highest 3rd of distribution of vitamin C had a relative risk of .5 compared with those with the lowest third after adjustment for age, sex and cardiovascular risk factors. The relationship between vitamin C and stroke was independent of social class and other dietary variables. There was a similar associated risk with plasma vitamin C concentrations. There was no association between vitamin C status and the risk of coronary heart disease. The authors conclude that in elderly subjects vitamin C concentration whether measured by the diet or plasma is strongly related to the subsequent risk of stroke but not to coronary heart disease. This study followed-up elderly subjects over a 20-year period. In this study vitamin C was as strong a predictor of death from stroke as diastolic blood pressure. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol may enhance the likelihood of an atheroma which vitamin C may have an effect on. Antioxidants may be important in the prevention of cerebrovascular disease. In this study vitamin C status predicted death from stroke. Part of the decline that has occurred from cardiovascular disease may be due to increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. A high intake of vitamin C should be encouraged in the elderly.