Heart failure

Overview and effective natural approaches to heart failure


What is it?

Heart failure, or congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. In some cases the heart won’t fill with enough blood and, in other cases, the heart can’t pump blood to the rest of the body with enough force.

Some people have both problems. Contrary to its name, heart failure does not mean the heart has failed completely. The body depends on the heart’s pumping action to deliver oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the body’s cells.

When the cells are nourished properly, the body can function normally. With heart failure, the weakened heart can’t supply the cells with enough blood. Heart failure develops over time as the heart’s pumping action grows weaker.


The condition can affect the right side of the heart only or it can affect both sides of the heart. Most cases involve both sides of the heart. Right-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
Left-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. This results in fatigue and shortness of breath. Everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs or carrying groceries can become very difficult.

Symptoms / Signs and Diagnosis

The condition can affect the right side of the heart only or it can affect both sides of the heart. Most cases involve both sides of the heart. Right-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen.

Left-side heart failure occurs if the heart can’t pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body. This results in fatigue and shortness of breath. Everyday activities such as walking, climbing stairs or carrying groceries can become very difficult.



Diagnostic tests

Electrocardiogram and chest X-ray: they check for enlargement of the heart and fluid in the lungs.

Echocardiogram: Is a way to look for heart valve abnormalities, signs of heart attack or other cardiac abnormalities. It can determine whether the heart muscles have weakened or become stiff.

Causes and Risk factors

Heart failure is often the final stage of another kind of heart disease.

The many causes include:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart valve disorders (including rheumatic heart disease)
  • Congenital heart disorders
  • Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle)
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiac arrhythmias (problems with the heart rate and/or rhythm)
  • Hyperthyroidism, diabetes and prolonged lung disease also increase the risk of heart failure.

There are also many risk factors:
Exposure to toxins, including excessive alcohol

Conventional Medicine approach: valuable but incomplete

When a person suffers from heart failure, the heart and the body try to compensate this in many ways. At first the heart tries to make up for this by:

Enlarging. When the heart chamber enlarges, it stretches more and can contract more strongly, so it pumps more blood;

Developing more muscle mass: the increase in muscle mass occurs because the contracting cells of the heart get bigger. This lets the heart pump more strongly, at least initially;

Pumping faster: this helps to increase the heart’s output.

Then the body tries to compensate in other ways:
The blood vessels narrow to keep blood pressure up, trying to make up for the heart’s loss of power.

The body diverts blood away from less important tissues and organs to maintain flow to the most vital organs, the heart and brain.
These temporary measures mask the problem of heart failure, but they don’t solve it. Heart failure continues and worsens until these substitute processes no longer work. The body’s compensation mechanisms help explain why some people may not become aware of their condition until years after their heart begins its decline.

To solve this problem there is on the one hand the traditional medicine and on the other hand the natural approach of the dr.Rath Research Institute.

The conventional medicine practice often uses these medications:

Medications-side-effects-hearth-failureDiuretics (water or fluid pills) help reduce fluid buildup in the lungs and swelling in the feet and ankles.
Angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE) inhibitors lower blood pressure and reduce strain on your heart. They also may reduce the risk of a future heart attack.
Aldosterone antagonists trigger the body to get rid of salt and water through urine. This lowers the volume of blood that the heart must pump.

Angiotensin receptor blockers relax your blood vessels and lower blood pressure to decrease your heart’s workload.

Beta blockers slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure to decrease your heart’s workload.

Isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine hydrochloride helps relax your blood vessels so your heart doesn’t work as hard to pump blood.

Digoxin makes the heart beat stronger and pump more blood.

In some cases doctors use implantable medical devices (e.g. valves replacement).

Genuinely, with this approach, we don’t solve the heart failure and furthermore we have many different collateral effects that can produce other diseases. In fact conventional medicine is largely confined to treating the symptoms of heart failure.

Diuretic drugs are given to flush out the water that is retained in body tissues because of the weak pumping function of the heart. However, they also flush out water-soluble micronutrients, thereby causing additional health problems.

The still insufficient understanding of the causes of heart failure explains the unfavorable prognosis of this disease. Five years after a heart failure condition is diagnosed, only 50% of the patients are still alive.

For many patients with heart failure, a heart transplant operation is the last resort. Most heart failure patients, however, die without ever having the option of such an operation.

The focus of conventional medicine on diuretics and other symptom-oriented pharmaceutical drugs has prevented the discovery of the true cause of heart failure. Moreover, the conventional treatment of heart failure patients shows how the lack of understanding the cause of a disease leads to a vicious cycle in which therapeutic measures worsen the health problem.

Today we know that the chronic deficiency of essential cellular nutrients in heart muscle cells impairs the pumping function of the heart.
This leads to impaired blood circulation in different organs of the body.

For example, the kidneys remove excess water by filtering it from the blood into the urine. With impaired blood flow through the kidneys, water is retained in tissues and causes swelling (edema) of the legs, lungs and other parts of the body.

In order to eliminate edema, doctors prescribe diuretic medications. This measure starts a vicious cycle in the conventional therapy of heart failure.
Diuretics remove water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins C and B, and important minerals and trace elements from the body.

Since vitamin deficiency is already the main cause of heart failure, diuretic medications further aggravate the disease (now we understand why the prognosis of heart failure is so unfavorable).

Cellular medicine

Cellular medicine provides a breakthrough in the understanding of the causes, prevention and adjunct treatment of heart failure.

The primary cause of heart failure is a deficiency of vitamins and other essential nutrients providing bioenergy to the millions of heart muscle cells.

These cells are responsible for the contraction of the heart muscle and for the optimum pumping of blood into circulation. Deficiencies of vitamins and other essential nutrients impair the pumping performance of the heart, resulting in shortness of breath, edema and fatigue.

So, with specific micronutrients synergies, we have positive results and only benefits without collateral effects.

For these reasons the future therapy of heart failure is the supplementation of vitamins and other essential cellular nutrients.

If water has accumulated in a patient’s body, diuretics should be given. Irrespective of that, the daily supplementation of essential cellular nutrients must become an essential part of any heart failure therapy. As a heart failure patient, you should talk with your doctor about these findings.

Key micronutrients for optimum heart health

Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12 and Biotin are important energy carriers in cellular metabolism. Vitamin B1 is critical for the optimum function of the cardiac muscle cells. People who are taking diuretics are particularly affected by a shortage of B vitamins and other water-soluble micronutrients.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is the key component in the energy formation cycle in the mitochondria, the power source of the cells. An optimum supply of CoQ10 is especially important for the cardiac muscle cells because of their high demands for bioenergy. Muscle tissues are the richest source of this nutrient, therefore vegetarians are at risk of CoQ10 deficiency. CoQ10 also has antioxidant properties.

Carnitine can be produced in the body’s cells from the amino acids Lysine and Methionine. Lysine is not manufactured in the body and since it comes only from diet, deficiency is likely. In addition, Carnitine production also requires Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin B6 and Niacin. Carnitine is essential for transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria where they are burned for energy.

Its role is very important because fatty acids are the primary energy source for the heart muscle.
Vitamin C is needed for the synthesis of Carnitine and is an important mediator of energy production in the cells. Vitamin C is the universal antioxidant in the body and protects cells and all metabolic components against damage from oxidation.

Vitamin E protects cell membranes and fatty components against damage from free radicals. Excessive oxidation stress has been associated with aging, tissue damage and various diseases.

Taurine is an amino acid produced from Cysteine and vitamin B6. Especially low Taurine levels have been detected in people after they have had a heart attack. Taurine is highly utilized by the heart and helps to stabilize cell membranes. It is also very important for optimum heart function and maintaining a regular heartbeat.

Clinical confirmation of nutrient synergy in heart failure patients

These significant findings were confirmed in clinical studies conducted with patients who suffered from heart failure. In one of the pilot studies heart performance was measured by echocardiography (ultrasound examination of the heart) and a treadmill test.

The synergistic action of specific cellular nutrients improved heart pumping function on average by 20% after six months of their intake. In addition, there was observed a 100% improvement in severe fatigue and a 70% improvement in shortness of breath.

The other clinical pilot trial in heart failure patients measured health improvements using the NYHA grading system that measures the quality of life. NYHA uses a 0 to 4 scale grade: Grade 0 – no symptoms of heart insufficiency, Grade 4 – severe condition in which patients are confined to bed. At the beginning of this study, seven out of  ten patients suffered significant impairment of cardiovascular health (Class 3 on the NYHA scale).

Three other patients reported moderate limitation of their physical activity (Class 2 on the NYHA scale). After six months of having the nutrient synergy program added to their usual regimen, eight out of ten patients reported improvement in their health condition by one or more grades on NYHA scale. As a result, after six months of nutrient supplementation half of the patients could lead normal lives again without any discomfort, weakness or associated arrhythmia.


Study Design

Ten patients between the ages of 41-68 years old and with heart failure took part in a pilot study conducted over a period of six months. The patients took a daily dosage of specific micronutrients. They continued to take the medications prescribed by their physicians. The degree of heart failure was documented for every patient, using the standardized classification provided by the New York Heart Association (NYHA scale). At the beginning of the study, seven out of 10 patients suffered extensive impairment of cardiovascular health (Class 3 on the NYHA scale). Three patients reported moderate limitation of their physical activity (Class 2 on the NYHA scale).
Heart failure classification according to the New York Heart Association (NYHA):
Class 1 = No problems with normal physical activity
Class 2 = Moderate limitation of physical activity
Class 3 = Extensive limitation of physical activity
Class 4 = Bedridden

Study Results

After completion of the study, the average improvements in heart insufficiency were as follows:
50% of the patients experienced no more problems with normal physical activity. Twenty percent of participants reported only slight limitation of physical performance. No improvement was noted in two patients who did not adhere thoroughly to the vitamin treatment; they took it irregularly or not at all.

Dr Rath Research Institute 

Another study about heart failure

Many patients who have suffered a heart attack, also have a low vitamin D serum value, but high inflammatory markers. In this study, 101 patients were treated with short-term high-dose vitamin D3 (2000 IU). Researchers have found that the serum level of vitamin D was increased and simultaneously the inflammation values ​​were decreased.


Short-term vitamin D3 supplementation lowers plasma renin activity in patients with stable chronic heart failure: an open-label, blinded end point, randomized prospective trial (VitD-CHF trial).
Schroten NF1, Ruifrok WP, Kleijn L, Dokter MM, Silljé HH, Lambers Heerspink HJ, Bakker SJ, Kema IP, van Gilst WH, van Veldhuisen DJ, Hillege HL, de Boer RA. Department of Cardiology, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Pub Med


Many chronic heart failure (CHF) patients have low vitamin D (VitD) and high plasma renin activity (PRA), which are both associated with poor prognosis. Vitamin D may inhibit renin transcription and lower PRA. We investigated whether vitamin D3 (VitD3) supplementation lowers PRA in CHF patients.

We conducted a single-center, open-label, blinded end point trial in 101 stable CHF patients with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction. Patients were randomized to 6 weeks of 2,000 IU oral VitD3 treatment daily or were placed in a control group. At baseline, mean age was 64 ± 10 years, 93% male, left ventricular ejection fraction 35% ± 8%, and 56% had VitD deficiency. The geometric mean (95% CI) of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 increased from 48 nmol/L (43-54) at baseline to 80 nmol/L (75-87) after 6 weeks in the VitD3 treatment group and decreased from 47 nmol/L (42-53) to 44 nmol/L (39-49) in the control group (P < .001).

The primary outcome PRA decreased from 6.5 ng/mL per hour (3.8-11.2) to 5.2 ng/mL per hour (2.9-9.5) in the VitD3 treatment group and increased from 4.9 ng/mL per hour (2.9-8.5) to 7.3 ng/mL per hour (4.5-11.8) in the control group (P = .002). This was paralleled by a larger decrease in plasma renin concentration in the VitD3 treatment group compared to the control group (P = .020). No significant changes were observed in secondary outcome parameters, including N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide natriuretic peptide and fibrosis markers.

Most CHF patients had VitD deficiency and high PRA levels. Six weeks of supplementation with 2,000 IU VitD3 increased 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels and decreased PRA and plasma renin concentration.


National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health

The effect of micronutrient supplementation on quality-of-life and left ventricular function in elderly patients with chronic heart failure.
Witte KK1, Nikitin NP, Parker AC, von Haehling S, Volk HD, Anker SD, Clark AL, Cleland JG.
Pub Med

Am Heart J. 2013 Aug; 166(2):357-364.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2013.05.009. Epub 2013 Jun 24.

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Pub Med

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Italian multicenter study on the safety and efficacy of coenzyme Q10 as adjunctive therapy in heart failure (interim analysis).
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Pub Med

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Pub Med

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Pub Med

Treatment of congestive heart failure with coenzyme Q10 illuminated by meta-analyses of clinical trials.
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Pub Med

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Romano M; Rosiello G; Cuocolo A
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Pub Med

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Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of ascorbate on the preventive effect of nitrate tolerance in patients with congestive heart failure.
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Pub Med

Role of oxidative stress in transition of hypertrophy to heart failure.
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Pub Med

Neutrophil superoxide anion–generating capacity, endothelial function and oxidative stress in chronic heart failure: effects of short- and long-term vitamin C therapy.
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McDowell IF; Jackson SK; Lewis MJ; Frenneaux MP
Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2000 Nov 1;36(5):1474-82
Pub Med

Acute effects of vitamin C on platelet responsiveness to nitric oxide donors and endothelial function in patients with chronic heart failure.
Ellis GR; Anderson RA; Chirkov YY; Morris-Thurgood J; Jackson SK; Lewis MJ;
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Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology 2001 May;37(5):564-70
Pub Med

Dietary and blood antioxidants in patients with chronic heart failure. Insights into the potential importance of selenium in heart failure.
de Lorgeril M; Salen P; Accominotti M; Cadau M; Steghens JP; Boucher F; de Leiris J
European Journal of Heart Failure 2001 Dec;3(6):661-9
Pub Med

Vitamin C inhibits endothelial cell apoptosis in congestive heart failure.
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Pub Med

Improved left ventricular function after thiamine supplementation in patients with congestive heart failure receiving long-term furosemide therapy.
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Pub Med

Co-enzyme Q10 supplementation for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease
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