Carnitine Supplement Linked to Heart Health


New research suggests carnitine could play a key role in improving survival rates for babies with heart defects.

In a recent press release, Stephen M. Black unveiled new research into a common nutritional supplement responsible for improving survival rates for babies born with heart defects. This supplement is called “carnitine” and it helps transport fat inside the cell powerhouse to be used for energy production. Current uses include treatment of chest pain and weight loss.  According to the release, carnitine appears to normalize blood vessel dysfunction that can accompany congenital heart defects and linger even after corrective surgery.

According to the March of Dimes, 1 in 125 babies are born with a heart defect in the United States each year. Roughly one half of babies born with heart defects display excessive, continuous high pressure on their lungs due to misdirected blood flow. Stephen M. Black hopes that his research using a lamb model of human heart defects will have a major impact on survival of babies.

Full-blown pulmonary vascular disease can be prevented with early surgery, but scientists have still seen subtle disruptions in blood vessel wall signaling that can be problematic, and potentially deadly, up to 72 hours following surgery. When heart defects misdirect blood flow, the baby’s lungs are pounded with three times the normal blood flow and result in a 20% death rate even when surgeries are completed as early as possible to correct blood flow. This 1-in-5 death rate from acute pulmonary hyptertension has remained unchanged for a decade.

Fortunately, these changes are reversible and carnitine has been shown to speed recovery. The new study even suggests that high daily doses of carnitine in the first four weeks of life can prevent endothelial dysfunction even when doctors do not address the baby’s heart rate.

Stephen M. Black is currently working with Dr. Jeffrey Fineman, the study’s co-author, to secure additional funding. Future studies will address questions such as optimal dosage and timing for administering carnitine.


To read the full release, click here:


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