Chronic Heart Failure
Heart failure describes a condition in which the heart lacks the ability to deliver sufficient blood flow to meet existing needs, both at rest and during exertion.
As the failing heart works harder and harder, it grows in size, but its muscle stretches eventually to the point at which it can no longer keep up with the blood returning from the circulation. That produces “congestion,” blood backing up into the liver and other organs (right-sided heart failure), or into the lungs (left-sided heart failure). These conditions are often referred to as congestive heart failure.
Symptoms of heart failure vary greatly, but may include fluid retention, swelling of the extremities, difficulty breathing, and, importantly, reduction in exercise tolerance. TABLE 2 shows the standard classifications of heart failure according to the New York State Heart Association’s definitions.41
Numerous clinical studies demonstrate hawthorn’s effectiveness alone or as add-on therapy to regular drugs, especially for mild (Class II) heart failure.
Hawthorn extracts improve a host of objective measures of heart failure, including cardiac oxygen consumption, blood pressure, heart rate, percent of blood pumped per heartbeat, percent of heart muscle contracting (as seen on echocardiograms).42-46 Placebo recipients in these studies often suffer deterioration during the study period.43
Dramatic improvements in exercise tolerance on bicycle or treadmill testing are attributed to hawthorn supplementation. Patients experience increased exercise time until ECG abnormalities, increased maximal workload, fewer arrhythmias, and fewer extra heartbeats.44-48
Patients with Class II heart failure who supplement with hawthorn can also expect improvements in their symptoms; they have less shortness of breath, ankle swelling, fatigue, and palpitations, while enjoying improved overall quality of life.43, 44, 47-49
In one study, 83% of patients taking hawthorn had less ankle swelling, and 50% had a reduced need to urinate at night (a common complaint in heart failure).44 That study also showed that nearly 66% of patients felt better after 24 weeks of supplementation.
Perhaps the most compelling data come from a study showing a 41% reduction in the risk of sudden cardiac death among heart failure patients with the best baseline heart performance who were taking hawthorn.50 Sudden death is the most-feared and unpredictable consequence of chronic heart failure.
In evaluating dosing of hawthorn extracts, it’s important to compare not only the dose in milligrams in the supplement, but also the total amount of the vital oligomeric polyphenols (OPC) that’s actually delivered. Supplements may vary by their oligomeric polyphenols concentration, but the total delivered dose should be comparable.
Typical doses of hawthorn extracts to achieve these effects range from 80 to 450 mg twice daily, which deliver 30 to 169 mg/day of oligomeric polyphenols , though one study of 1800 mg/day (providing 338 mg/day of OPC) demonstrated safety and improved patient symptom ratings in a group of people with Class III (moderate severity) heart failure.42, 44
Hawthorn’s effects are so powerful that theoretical concerns have been raised about its interactions with other heart medications, especially the “cardiac glycosides” such as digitalis and digoxin. A human volunteer trial, however, demonstrated no detectable interactions after 3 weeks of treatment with digoxin 0.25 mg/day and hawthorn 900 mg/day (delivering OPC at 169 mg/day).51
Arjuna extracts produce even more remarkable improvements in chronic heart failure patients. One study evaluated arjuna at a dose of 500 mg every 8 hours in patients with severe, Class IV heart failure, not responding to standard medications, which were continued throughout the study.11 Supplemented patients, but not controls, had improvement in all clinical signs of heart failure, and had better objective outcomes on echocardiograms, including reductions in heart volume and pressures, and increases in the amount and percent of blood pumped with each beat.
In that study, 100% of arjuna-supplemented patients improved from Class IV (basically bedridden) to Class III (moderate) heart failure, an enormous change.11 Perhaps even more compelling is the finding that, by the study’s 4th month, 75% of the arjuna-supplemented patients had moved down to Class II (from Class III). No patients in the placebo group experienced such remarkable progress.
In another trial, Class III patients on the same dose of arjuna achieved similar echocardiogram results. In this study, all arjuna-supplemented patients improved all the way to Class I heart failure, which is defined as having no symptoms of heart failure at all.10
None of these studies detected meaningful side effects from the use of arjuna as an add-on therapy.
Tens of millions of Americans suffer coronary artery blockage, arrhythmia, and/or congestive heart failure. Most don’t know they are slowly developing these problems as a consequence of normal aging.
Life Extension members take nutrients like CoQ10, PQQ, carnitine, lipoic acid, and fish oil to help protect against the epidemic of heart disease (and stroke) that strikes so many maturing humans.
Hawthorn and arjuna extracts function via novel cardio-protective mechanisms that have demonstrated remarkable efficacy in the clinical setting.
These extracts, alone or as add-on therapy to existing heart medications, have proven safe and effective in slowing and even reversing the deadly progress of angina, heart attack, and chronic heart failure. Those with preexisting cardiovascular health issues should consider supplementing with these botanical agents, after consultation with their healthcare provider.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
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