L-Carnitine Helps Improve Health after a Heart Attack
L-carnitine, a trimethylamine found in high amounts in red meat and certain other foods, has been found to significantly improve cardiac health in patients who have suffered a heart attack. This nutrient is also widely available as an over-the-counter health supplement which is believed to improve energy, promote weight loss, and enhance athletic performance. Its potential benefit for patients with heart disease was first reported in the late 1970s.
A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings shows that L-carnitine is linked with a significant reduction in mortality from all causes and a highly significant reduction in cardiac events following a heart attack, compared with placebo. Researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the published studies over several decades to look into the role of L-carnitine compared with placebo in patients who experienced an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and although many drugs have been developed to improve life expectancy, adverse cardiac events such as ventricular arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) and angina attacks (chest pain) commonly occur after a heart attack. L-carnitine levels are known to be depleted during these events.
The systematic review included 13 controlled trials with more than 3,600 patients, involving 250 deaths, 220 new cases of heart failure, and 38 recurrent heart attacks. Researchers found that L-carnitine supplementation was associated with about 30% reduction in deaths from all causes, 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmias, 40% reduction in angina and reduction of infarct size (cardiac damage). There were also fewer repeat heart attacks and cases of heart failure.
James J. DiNicolantonio, first author, believes that using L-carnitine is promising therapy for improving cardiac health, which may involve various mechanisms, including improvement of free fatty acid levels and glucose oxidation.
Elsevier. L-carnitine significantly improves patient outcomes following heart attack, study suggests. ScienceDaily.