Alternative Medicine for Heart Failure Treatment

Dr. Stacy Livingston

Interest in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for treating heart failure has been on an increasing trend.  Often, individuals turn to CAM in pursuit of options beyond standard medical treatments. 

While this approach can provide patients with a greater variety of choices and a sense of empowerment regarding their care, it's not without its drawbacks. Without proper guidance from a healthcare provider, patients may encounter adverse effects. This article delves into the evolving role of CAM in the realm of heart failure treatment.

Why is CAM for Heart Failure so Popular Already?

The Heart Failure Society of America says that there are 6.5 million heart failure patients in the U.S. right now. According to the American Heart Association, 30% of these people are already using CAM therapies.  

Positive patient experiences are the driving force behind this change. Patients dealing with chronic conditions like heart failure are usually a part of communities where people share information about these conditions. When one patient has a positive experience with an alternative therapy for heart failure, they would pass on the information to others and try to help them. That’s how more and more people join the group and alternative therapies gain popularity.   

What are the Potential Benefits and Concerns? 

Some CAM therapies have shown promise. For example, fish oil does contain Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that have proven benefits for heart failure patients. Similarly, practices like Yoga and Tai Chi can improve exercise tolerance and blood pressure regulation in heart failure patients.

However, these medicines don’t go through the process of FDA approval. They are not scrutinized by professionals before they slip into the market as an option for treating serious conditions like heart failure. Word of mouth is what drives their sales and usage among patients. 

Because of these factors, some CAM therapies have raised concerns. Vitamin D supplementation, blue cohosh, and Lily of the Valley have shown potential interactions with heart failure medications. Medicines containing Coenzyme Q10 can also cause side effects when used in combination with prescription medicines for heart failure. 

How Will Alternative Treatment for Heart Failure Affect the Healthcare System?

Since these medicines have become so popular, healthcare professionals might be facing more and more heart failure patients who are planning to use CAM or already using CAM. 

Patients' increased reliance and trust on alternative medicines might reduce the number of people relying on the healthcare system. It can give patients the option to stay at home and try to devise their own treatment plans. 

As heart failure patients can acquire CAM without a prescription, they are more prone to overdosing. The burden on the healthcare system can increase due to cases of overdose or chemical interactions. 

Will CAM Therapy for Heart Failure Ever Become Mainstream?

In order to become mainstream, alternative medicine will have to go through rigorous testing. The benefits of these remedies need to show up in controlled randomized trials before they are accepted widely. Healthcare professionals will have to get involved and guide patients about them for them to become a completely safe and viable option in heart failure treatment. 

As Sheryl L. Chow, Chair of the scientific statement writing committee, points out, "Overall, more quality research and well-powered randomized controlled trials are needed to better understand the risks and benefits of complementary and alternative medicine therapies for people with heart failure."


The interest in alternative medicine for heart failure is indicative of patients' desire for more control over their treatment. Despite the potential for empowerment, the use of such therapies can lead to complications, especially without medical supervision. CAM's growing popularity may shift how patients interact with traditional healthcare. 

For CAM to gain widespread acceptance, however, it must undergo thorough scientific scrutiny and be coupled with professional guidance. The future of heart failure treatment may well include these therapies, but only if they are proven safe and effective through rigorous testing.  



American Heart Association

The Heart Failure Society of America

Dr. Livingston enjoys taking care of patients from the mild to the wild. He is the doctor for you, if you have been to other places and told there was nothing that could be done for your or told “It’s all in your head”. He accepts all types of cases including workers compensation, auto accident and personal injury cases. He believes chiropractic can help everyone add life to their years and get them back to doing what they love.

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