Adding TCM to Western medication found to improve quality of life for chronic heart failure patients
10/22/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

A study found that adding traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to Western medication can improve the quality of life of patients with chronic heart failure.

In China, it is common to administer TCM together with Western medication to treat diseases. Thus, a team of researchers looked whether this was effective in conditions such as chronic heart failure. (Related: Heart failure breakthrough: placebo-controlled study shows major improvement with acupuncture.)

The study involved 340 inpatients from 10 hospitals. Participants were between the age of 40 to 79, and all had chronic heart failure. The study subjects were also enrolled and randomly assigned within 24 hours of admission.

The research team carried out three intervention periods – during hospitalization, after discharge, and six months after discharge. During the participants' hospitalization period, the control group was given Western medication for chronic heart failure. On the other hand, the treatment group was given traditional Chinese medicines Danhong injection with Shenfu injection or Shenmai injection. After they were discharged from the hospital, both groups received treatment of Qiliqiangxin capsules and Buyiqiangxin tablets or a placebo for six months. After the six-month treatment, both groups received only continuous Western medication. The team carried out effectiveness tests, which included B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), Lee's HF score, the six-minute walking test (6MWT), left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), and the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ). For safety assessments of the treatment, they conducted blood and urine routine tests, hepatic and renal function, electrolytes in the blood, and adverse events.


The findings of the study revealed that the treatment group showed nearly 31 percent decrease in all-cause mortality and an improved survival rate in comparison to the control group. In addition, the treatment group showed a greater improvement in the six-minute walking distance in comparison to the control group. However, the incidence rate of side effects and other relevant safety indexes were not statistically significant between both groups.

In conclusion, the addition of traditional Chinese medicine to Western medication can improve the exercise tolerance as well as the quality of life of people living with heart failure. The study was published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

More on chronic heart failure

Chronic heart failure is a serious and incurable condition, which develops when the heart muscles are impaired, making it unable to pump blood properly. The condition can occur as a result of a heart attack or chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cardiovascular diseases.

People living with chronic heart failure may have a hard time accomplishing daily tasks or may find them exhausting. The symptoms of chronic heart failure include the buildup of excess fluid in the body, lethargy, breathlessness, sudden weight gain, loss of appetite, dizziness, and coughing. The quality of life of a person with chronic heart failure could be improved by taking medication that helps control blood pressure or strengthens the heart muscle, being outfitted with a pacemaker or an implantable cardiac defibrillator, monitoring fluid and symptoms, and making healthy lifestyle changes. These changes include being smoke-free, having adequate fluid intake, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and limiting alcohol, caffeine, and soft drinks.

If you'd like to read more news stories and studies on traditional Chinese medicines, you may go to

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