Supplements for Congestive Heart Failure

Make up for shortfalls. If you think you’re not getting enough magnesium or thiamin in your diet, you can take supplements to help raise your levels of these nutrients. For magnesium, Dr. Pizzorno recommends taking 200 to 400 milligrams three times a day. If you’re concerned about thiamin, Dr. Pizzorno suggests taking 200 to 500 milligrams a day.

Cash in on carnitine. Chemically, carnitine-also known as L-carnitine-is an amino acid. But it functions like a B vitamin in your body. “About 60 percent of the energy that powers your heart comes from fatty acids. Carnitine helps move fatty acids into muscle tissues, including your heart,” Dr. Lieberman explains. “Carnitine deficiency has been linked to heart failure, while carnitine supplementation helps treat CHF and prevent arrhythmias.”

If you have CHF, taking supplemental carnitine is a good idea, says Alan Gaby, M.D. You can buy the supplements in health food stores and some drugstores. Take 1 gram of carnitine twice a day. Though carnitine is available over the counter, you should use it only under the supervision of your doctor since its safety isn’t well-established.

Count on Q10. A good deal of research has shown that people with CHF can benefit from supplements of a nutrient called coenzymeQ10″

“Coenzyme QlO is a very good treatment for CHF,” says Alan P. Brauer, M.D. “The research is convincing.” He recommends taking 150 to 200 milligrams a day. You can buy coenzyme Q10 supplements in health food stores and some drugstores.

Ease into an active lifestyle. For years, doctors recommended rest for people with CHF Not anymore. “We strongly recommend exercise,” Dr. Pina says. “It increases your stamina and improves your heart function. It also makes you feel better.”

Of course, when you have a fatigued heart, you have to be careful about physical activity. But your physician can test you to determine how much exercise you can safely tolerate. Chances are that you can walk, swim, cycle, golf, garden, or do similar activities that aren’t too strenuous. Just check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Make blood flow better. To treat CHF, mainstream M.D.’s often prescribe medicines that expand blood vessels. Called vasodilators, these drugs lower blood pressure and allow blood to circulate more easily. But they may produce side effects. Biofeedback can provide similar benefits without side effects, as demonstrated in a study led by Debra K. Moser, R.N., D.N.Sc., assistant professor at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Dr. Moser andher colleagues taught 20 people with CHF to use biofeedback to open their blood vessels, with the goal of improving circulatory efficiency. Another 20 people continued receiving standard treatment. Those who practiced biofeedback showed significant increases in blood vessel diameter, which means their circulation improved. Their hearts were pumping more blood, too.