Adjunctive Therapies for Congestive Heart Failure
Approximately 5 million Americans have congestive heart failure, and it contributes to 300,000 deaths annually. Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart muscle—damaged by a heart attack, chronic hypertension or coronary artery disease, infection, drugs, or toxins—is unable to pump enough nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to meet the body’s requirements.
Congestive heart failure may go unnoticed in its early stages, as the weakened heart compensates by enlarging and thickening so it can beat faster and more strongly. But like any overworked muscle, it can’t keep up indefinitely, and fatigue, shortness of breath, edema (fluid retention), and other symptoms become evident.
Conventional physicians prescribe drugs to reduce the heart’s workload, but this doesn’t address the real problem, which is that the heart muscle is simply running out of steam. What patients also need are therapies to energize the failing heart muscle. Here is the protocol that we’ve been using at Whitaker Wellness for decades.
- Supplements that engender ATP production. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the energy that fuels our cells, and myocardial (heart muscle) cells are voracious consumers of ATP. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), L-carnitine, magnesium, and ribose have been independently shown to improve cardiac reserves, exercise tolerance, and ejection fraction (a measure of the heart’s pumping efficiency) in patients with heart failure. But when used in combination, they’re particularly effective.
I recommend 200–600 mg of CoQ10, 1,000 mg of L-carnitine, 500–1,000 mg of magnesium, and 10–15 g ribose, taken daily in divided doses.
- A high-potency multinutrient, extra vitamin D, and fish oil. People with congestive heart failure are often low in a wide range of water-soluble nutrients. One reason is because fluid overload is a characteristic of congestive heart failure, and diuretic drugs are often necessary.
While these drugs may be helpful, vitamins and minerals are lost along with excess fluids. In one study of congestive heart failure patients, researchers linked low levels of vitamin C with elevated C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), worsening heart failure, and higher death rates.
Vitamin D deficiency was also shown in a 2012 study to be highly prevalent in congestive heart failure—and supplemental vitamin D reduced the death rate in these patients.
Other beneficial supplements include: selenium, vitamin E, and other antioxidants; folic acid, thiamine, and additional B-complex vitamins; and fish oil. Cover your nutritional bases by taking a high-potency multinutrient, extra vitamin D, and at least 2,000 mg of fish oil daily.
- Stem cell therapy. Perhaps the most exciting new treatment for congestive heart failure is stem cell therapy because it has the potential of replacing damaged cardiac muscle with new tissue.
The Lancet reported results of a small study involving patients with congestive heart failure who were treated with cardiac stem cells, collected from each patient during surgery, purified, and later infused into their damaged hearts. Following treatment, ejection fraction increased by 8 percentage points, and MRIs revealed a 30 percent decrease in dead heart muscle tissue after a year. Study participants also had notable improvements in activity level and quality of life.
- Enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP) is a noninvasive treatment that dramatically increases blood flow to the heart and throughout the body. Used primarily for angina and coronary artery disease, it is also a proven treatment for congestive heart failure.
One study showed that EECP significantly raises levels of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (stem cells from the bone marrow that repair the endothelium, the all-important lining of the arteries) and that this likely helps explain EECP’s enduring benefits.
I am not suggesting that EECP is a replacement for stem cell therapy, but given the scarcity of effective conventional therapies and the seriousness of congestive heart failure, appropriate use of EECP, in my opinion, would be very beneficial.
Now it’s your turn: Have you ever tried any of these therapies before?
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For more than 30 years, Dr. Julian Whitaker has helped people regain their health with a combination of therapeutic lifestyle changes, targeted nutritional support, and other cutting-edge natural therapies. He is widely known for treating diabetes, but also routinely treats heart disease and other degenerative diseases. More About Dr. Whitaker
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