Ascorbic acid reduces blood pressure and arterial stiffness in type 2 diabetes


Mullan BA






Experimental evidence suggests that acute parenteral administration of high-dose ascorbic acid has beneficial vascular effects in type 2 diabetes. We studied the hemodynamic effects of chronic oral supplementation in this condition. Thirty patients, 45 to 70 years of age, with type 2 diabetes, were randomly assigned in a double-blind manner to receive 500 mg ascorbic acid daily by mouth or placebo. Patients were studied at baseline and after 4 weeks of assigned treatment. The central aortic augmentation index (AgIx) and the time to wave reflection (Tr) were derived from radial artery pulse wave analysis data. AgIx and Tr were used as measures of systemic arterial stiffness and aortic stiffness, respectively. Ascorbic acid decreased brachial systolic blood pressure from 142.1+/-12.6 (SD) to 132.3+/-12.1 mm Hg (difference [95% CI] 9.9 [4.7, 15.0]; P<0.01), brachial diastolic pressure from 83.9+/-4.8 to 79.5+/-6.0 mm Hg (4.4 [1.8, 7.0]; P<0.01), and AgIx from 26.8+/-5.5% to 22.5+/-6.8% (4.3 [1.5, 7.1]; P<0.01). Tr increased from 137.1+/-12.6 to 143.4+/-9.2 ms (-6.3 [-10.1, -2.5]; P<0.01). Placebo had no hemodynamic effects, and this difference between treatments was significant (P<0.01 for blood pressure and Tr, P=0.03 for AgIx). We have therefore shown that after 1 month, oral ascorbic acid lowered arterial blood pressure and improved arterial stiffness in patients with type 2 diabetes. As strict control of blood pressure reduces cardiovascular risk in diabetes, ascorbic acid supplementation may potentially be a useful and inexpensive adjunctive therapy. Larger and longer studies now need to be performed.