Chronic heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart has difficulty pumping blood throughout the body. This sometimes fatal disease affects around 2% of all adults in the United States and symptoms include shortness of breath, tiredness, and swelling. Patients of heart failure present many signs of low grade heart inflammation which leads scientists to believe that the immune system is an important cause in many cases. For this reason scientists in Brazil conducted a clinical trial on the effect of probiotics in treating heart failure. Their results were published last month in the International Journal of Cardiology.
The researchers recruited twenty heart failure patients and gave half of them a placebo and half of them the bacteria Saccharomyces boulardii every day for 3 months. At the end of the three months the scientists examined the patients’ heart health and discovered that those people taking the probiotic had a decrease in cholesterol, uric acid, left ventricle diameter, and an improvement in heart strength (as measured by ejection fraction’), with many of these improvements far exceeding the placebo group.
The study was small, but important. Simply taking a daily probiotic, which had no adverse side effects, helps improve heart health. It is probably only a matter of time before the recommended food pyramid includes an entire section devoted to fermented edibles.