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Heart Failure Health Center

Exercise-Supplement Combo May Help a Failing Heart

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"There are weaknesses in this study," Steven Almany, MD, tells WebMD. He points out that the study participants were healthier than those doctors usually see, and that the researchers looked only at arm exercises. "Does that mean that exercising the leg or heart should show similar responses? We just don't know that," he says. Almany, medical director in the department of cardiology at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., was not involved in the study.

Smith says that though the new data are interesting, larger-scale trials are needed. "While [arginine] is a natural substance, we know that certain natural substances can be harmful," he says. "There is a concern in the heart failure community that patients are taking [over-the-counter] medications that may have harmful effects."

But Almany has no problem giving arginine to his patients. "Right now, if a patient asked me about taking arginine, I would have no [qualms] with it," he says. Still, he adds, "This is not a definitive study, and we need to take it further. One thing we do know is that exercise is beneficial for people with heart failure. That's been proven."

Vital Information:

  • Recent research has shown that heart failure may be a disease that affects the whole body, not just the heart.
  • A new study shows that patients with heart failure could benefit from a combination of exercise and the dietary supplement arginine.
  • Experts criticized the study, saying that its implications were limited due to the study's design and because the findings contradict those of similar studies.

 

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