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Using a Complementary Herbal Therapy in Heart Failure

Renee P. Meyer, MD; Jody Ciolino, MS; Terrence X. O’Brien, MD, MS, FACC 


Context: Many patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) experience impaired quality of life (QOL) and would be willing to take an additional safe medication to gain QOL improvement. QOL scores provide meaningful patient-based outcomes for CHF patients. Poorer QOL scores predict an increased number of hospitalizations and a higher rate of mortality.

Objective: This pilot study measures QOL and exercise endurance in CHF patients taking Cardiodoron, a plant-derived extract shown to increase heart rate variability. Medical practitioners prescribe the extract for palpitations, cardiac insuffi- ciency, and orthostatic symptoms.

Design: The research team designed an 18-week, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind pilot study.
Setting: The study took place at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina.

Participants: Eight CHF patients at the center participated in this study.

Intervention: Four participants received the herbal extract Cardiodoron for 18 weeks, and four received placebo. Both groups received standard therapy as well.

Outcome Measures: The Minnesota Living With Heart Failure Questionnaire and the 6-minute Walk Test were the primary endpoints measured at baseline and end of study.

Results: Participants taking Cardiodoron experienced no side effects. Mean and median QOL scores improved 15 and 12 points, respectively, in the Cardiodoron group, with three of the four participants taking Cardiodoron reporting QOL improvement by 7 or more points. One participant taking Cardiodoron reported a decrease in QOL. Results in this small pilot study were not statistically significant, but they may have clinical relevance to the participants in the study.

Conclusion: CHF patients can safely take the described herbal extract with standard therapy. A future study may determine whether the extract can enable them to benefit from the more favorable prognosis that accompanies a better QOL in heart failure.


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