• Cardiologists Give Belated Green Light To L-Carnitine Supplement After Heart Attacks

    Posted April 21, 2013: by Bill Sardi

    The data is striking.  A meta-analysis (review of combined results from different studies) concludes a commonly available dietary supplement is deemed to significantly improve cardiac health after a heart attack.

    The meta-analysis involved 13 studies involving 3629 patients and found L-carnitine results in a 65% relative reduction in ventricular heart rhythm abnormalities, 40% reduction in chest pain (angina), a significant reduction in the area of heart muscle damaged by a heart attack, and reduced all-causes of mortality by 27%.

    In some studies drugs improve cardiac health following a heart attack but, because of side effects, do not improve the survival of the patients.

    Where there were 150 deaths among 1812 post-heart attack patients given an inactive placebo tablet, there were only 100 deaths among an almost equal number (1767) of patients given L-carnitine (-27% relative reduction).  Only 16 of 413 L-carnitine patients experienced a second heart attack versus 22 of 416 patients given a placebo (relative reduction -22%).

    The 13 studies dated back to 1984, but the report, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, notes that most of the studies came before the era when more aggressive drug therapy (aspirin, blood thinners, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors and cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and was ignored thereafter.   But even with these strong drugs, the leading heart doctors who wrote this report lament that adverse events and deaths still occur following severe heart attacks.  So L-carnitine was reconsidered.

    While these cardiologists plead for larger more conclusive studies, they indicate a larger human trial may never be performed because L-carnitine is a lowly over-the-counter dietary supplement that does not generate the huge revenues as do drugs.

    The effective dosage in these studies range from 2000-9000 milligrams.

    What is interesting is that a seemingly contrary study was published in Nature Medicine journal in the same week and claimed L-carnitine promotes atherosclerosis (arterial plaque) in laboratory animals.  Consumers were advised to avoid red meat which is a rich source of carnitine.  However, it is not known if carnitine from foods actually promotes cardiac mortality in humans.

    One wonders if Big Pharma is tracking positive studies like involving non-patentable natural remedies and shadowing them with confounding studies.

    Other corroborative studies demonstrate that carnitine improves cell energy by improving the function of the power plants called mitochondria within heart muscle cells.

    Actually, documentation of a deficiency of carnitine in heart muscle tissue following a heart attack dates back to 1982.  It goes without the need for documentation to conclude that all of the synthetic drugs prescribed for post-heart attack patients do not replace L-carnitine and are therefore inappropriate.

    But when did doctors ever begin heeding science that backs natural remedies and why would they be interested in preventing second heart attacks when there are such strong financial incentives to treat rather than prevent disease?  And how many thousands of patients lost their lives in the three decades following recognition the heart needs replenishment of carnitine following a heart attack?  ©2013 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.

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