Beetroot juice supplements may help enhance exercise capacity in patients with heart failure, according to a new study published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure.
The researchers looked at the impact of dietary nitrate in the form of beetroot juice supplements on the exercise capacity of eight heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction, a condition in which the heart muscle doesn’t contract effectively and can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body.
Tens of millions of people suffer from heart failure. In about half of all such people, the ejection fraction of the heart is reduced.
Because of their condition, these patients find it harder to breathe, have diminished peak oxygen uptake and use more energy while exercising than would otherwise be the case.
Researchers found that the beetroot supplement resulted in significant increases in exercise duration, peak power and peak oxygen uptake while exercising.
Those improvements were not accompanied by any changes in the breathing responses of the patients, and there was no change in their exercise efficiency, a measure of how much external work a person gets for a certain input of energy.
Andrew Coggan, one of the researchers who conducted the study, said: Abnormalities in aerobic exercise responses play a major role in the disability, loss of independence and reduced quality of life that accompany heart failure. Perhaps more importantly, elevations in ventilatory demand and decreases in peak oxygen uptake are highly predictive of mortality in patients with heart failure.’
The data suggests that dietary supplementation may be a valuable addition to treatment for exercise intolerance among heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction.