Vitamin C shows promise in heart failure patients

November 6, 2001 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Vitamin C shows promise in heart failure patients

Findings from a small study suggest that therapy with vitamin C may help heart failure patients by improving the function of their blood vessels.

However, researchers say it is too early to recommend the vitamin as a treatment for congestive heart failure.

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart cannot pump efficiently enough to meet the body's needs, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath. Heart failure usually results from an underlying heart condition such as coronary artery disease.

Heart failure patients also show poor function in the blood vessel walls, and research suggests that damaging forms of oxygen called reactive oxygen molecules called free radicals accumulate in the blood as the condition progresses. This oxidative stress may contribute to dysfunction in the blood vessel wall by killing off cells.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it helps remove cell-damaging oxygen compounds from the body.

In a study that looked at vitamin C treatment in 34 patients with congestive heart failure--as well as how the vitamin affected cells in the test tube--German and French researchers found that the vitamin appeared to keep cells in the blood vessel wall from dying.

They say this protection from cell death could explain previous study findings suggesting that vitamin C benefits blood vessel function in people with congestive heart failure.

The researchers gave 34 patients either vitamin treatment or an inactive placebo. Treated patients first received an intravenous dose of vitamin C, followed by 3 days of oral supplements. All were on standard drug treatment for heart failure.

When they examined blood samples from the patients, they found that those who received vitamin C showed far less evidence of death of endothelial cells than they had before treatment.

Placebo patients showed no such change.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.