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D.iet & H.ealth : H.eart & B.lood Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Dietary supplement L-arginine may help heart failure patients
By Ben Wasserman
Jul 26, 2006, 23:59

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July 26 ( - Dietary supplement L-arginine may help heart failure patients improve their physical fitness, according to a new study published in the July 2006 issue of International Journal of Sports Medicine.

L-arginine, an amino acid, is a precursor of nitric oxide, which is important for the heart and circulation system or cardiovascular health, according to early studies. Nitric oxide helps the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate. L-arginine is an ingredient commonly used in many supplements for male sexual enhancement.

Heart failure is a condition in which the patient's heart is enlarged while pumping blood is not as efficient, causing breathlessness and fluid accumulation in the limbs and lungs.

The study, led by Dr. Stephane Doutreleau and colleagues from Institut de Physiologie, Strasbourg, France, involved ten patients with chronic stable heart failure. Patients in two groups, the study group and control group, performed an identical endurance exercise test before and after six weeks of 6 weeks of L-arginine supplementation or no supplementation

Researchers found that those who were assigned L-arginine supplementation for six weeks had a lower heart rate throughout exercise and the recovery period, compared to those who were not assigned the compound. A lower heart rate means that the blood circulation is more efficient.

One explanation for the patients to experience heart failure is that the L-arginine-nitric oxide pathway is dysfunctional. Supplementation of L-arginine may increase the output of nitric oxide.

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