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Unlocking Cardiac Health : The Impact of Plant-Based Diets on Congestive Heart Failure

Plant-based diets have shown promising results in improving cardiac health. These diets help in reducing the symptoms and even reversing the condition in patients with congestive heart failure (also known as heart failure). Thus, a plant-based diet should be considered as a potential adjunct to standard treatment.

An Overview of Congestive Heart Failure and its Prevalence

Congestive heart failure is a disease that is defined by the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to provide the body’s metabolic requirements. This disease increases the risk of morbidity and mortality with an increased direct or indirect cost to the healthcare system.

Risk factors of heart failure are multifaceted and significantly affected by diet; they include hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and hyperlipidemia.(1) Thus, the role of diet in the development, progression, and treatment of congestive heart failure is being studied extensively.

The prevalence of heart failure is more than 5.5 million in the United States alone and 23 million worldwide. In the US. alone, more than 550, 000 are diagnosed with heart failure, annually and half of them die within the first five years.(2, 3)

Piece of Information About Plant-Based Diet

Plant-based diets are a group of dietary choices that focus on an increased intake of sources of plant foods and a reduced intake of animal-based food sources. This means, that more foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and various plant-based sources of proteins like lentils, beans, seeds, and nuts should be included in the diet.

Plant-based diets also emphasize restricting various animal-based food choices like poultry, meat, or fish and have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and ischemic heart disease.(4, 5) However, it does not mean that a plant-based diet cannot include any food from animal sources unless someone is following a vegan diet, which excludes all animal products.

Some Studies That Show Plant-Based Diet Can Improve Cardiac Health

Emerging evidence suggests that a plant-based diet, or a diet consisting primarily of vegetables and fruits can prevent cardiovascular diseases, including congestive heart failure. Epidemiological studies in the past decade alone have shown an up to 81% reduction in the incidence of heart failure in groups who adhered to a healthy lifestyle with healthy dietary choices, regular exercise, and maintaining normal BMI. This suggests that nutrition plays a crucial role in improving cardiac health.(6, 7)

Here are some studies that show a plant-based diet can improve cardiac health.

Study 1

In 2007, Pischke et al. analyzed the effects of plant-based diets on ejection fraction (the amount of blood that the heart pumps, each time it beats) in patients with heart disease. Forty-six patients with left ventricular ejection fraction impairment were put on a plant-based diet for continuous three months. It was found that all the risk factors for heart failure have improved during those three months along with exercise tolerance. It shows that plant-based diets have a direct positive impact on clinical outcomes of heart failure.(8)

Study 2

Choi et al. in 2017 reported a heart failure case with an ejection fraction of 35% and left ventricular systolic dysfunction. The patient was put on a plant-based diet for two months and after that period it was found that the ejection fraction has been normalized to 50% and also that other risk factors for heart failure have significantly improved.(9)

Study 3

Najjar and Montogomery, in 2019 reported three cases of patients with heart failure who were on plant-based diets for an average of 79 days. All patients showed a significant improvement in risk factors of heart failure and blood markers, and ejection fraction was also improved by 92% due to improved heart function and substantial changes in the heart structure. Additionally, the stroke volume was increased by 62%, Left ventricular mass was reduced by 21%, and overall cardiac output increased by 17%.(10)

Apart from all these studies, many other small studies were conducted in the past two decades and they showed significant improvement in risk factors in patients with congestive heart failure.

Final Thoughts

A plant-based diet has shown promising results in patients with congestive heart failure, and it should be considered an important adjunct to standard treatment. However, the studies that were conducted on plant-based diets and congestive heart failure, come with some limitations, which include the small sample size, plant-based diets can vary in their nutrient content. Thus larger interventional studies with more structured designs are essential.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 13, 2023

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