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Dark chocolate reduces blood pressure in liver disease patients

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High blood pressure experienced by patients with liver damage can be reduced by eating dark chocolate, a new study has revealed.

Scientists have found that cocoa contains potent plant chemicals which help patients suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.

In the study, those who ate just less than half an average-sized chocolate bar saw their increased blood pressure drop significantly.

Normally the liver sees a rise in blood flow and pressure when food is consumed. But those with cirrhosis - scarring of the liver - can be at risk from this as they already suffer from elevated liver blood pressure, or portal hypertension.

In some cases the increase in blood pressure can cause blood vessels in the liver to rupture.

Commenting on the study, Professor Mark Thursz from Imperial College London, said: “This study shows a clear association between eating dark chocolate and portal hypertension and demonstrates the potential importance of improvements in the management of cirrhotic patients to minimise the onset and impact of end-stage liver disease and its associated mortality risks.”

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver in Vienna.

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