Traditional Chinese medicine shows promise for heart failure

A clinical trial of the traditional Chinese medicine, qiliqianxin, has shown it’s effective at treating patients with heart failure, according to a team of Chinese researchers.

The researchers have presented their findings at the European Society of Cardiology Congress.

Qiliqiangxin tablets are made from 11 different herb extracts, and preclinical and pilot studies have shown that the medicine can improve heart health when added to conventional treatments.

In this trial researchers enrolled 3,110 patients with “HFrEF”: heart failure and reduced “ejection fraction”, which is the amount of blood pumped by the heart.

The patients came from 133 hospitals across Hong Kong and mainland China.

Patients were randomly assigned to either receive qiliqiangxin or a placebo, in addition to their prescribed medications. Neither patients nor their doctors knew which treatment they were receiving, and exactly half of the patients were in each group.

Researchers checked whether patients had been rehospitalised with worsening heart problems, or died from them, an average of 18 months after treatment.

Patients in the qiliqiangxin group were significantly less likely to be rehospitalised or die (389 patients out of 1,555) than those in the placebo group (467 patients out of 1,555).

They also reported no major adverse effects from the qiliqiangxin.

“To our knowledge, this was the first randomised, double-blind controlled trial of a traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of chronic heart failure,” says principal investigator Professor Xinli Li, from the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, China.

“Our findings demonstrate meaningful clinical benefit with qiliqiangxin in patients with HFrEF, which support the use of qiliqiangxin as an adjunct therapy for treating heart failure.”

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