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Thiamin deficiency common in hospitalized heart failure patients

Among patients hospitalized with heart failure, about one in three has deficient levels of thiamin, although thiamin deficiency was less common among those patients who were taking vitamin supplements, according to a new study in the Jan. 17, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"We found that one-third of congestive heart failure patients admitted to our hospital had red blood cell levels of thiamin that were lower than normal and would suggest deficiency. In contrast to some previous studies, we did not find a relationship between the development of thiamin deficiency and the amount or duration of diuretic use and urinary thiamin excretion. In fact, what was important was that a relatively small dose of thiamin from a multi-vitamin was protective against developing thiamin deficiency," said Mary E. Keith, Ph.D. from St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Keith said that heart failure may increase the body's need for certain nutrients, including thiamin, so even patients who are eating relatively well may not be getting enough of them. At the same time, the illness may make it harder to maintain a proper diet. She said that this study helps focus attention on the role of diet in managing serious conditions, such as heart failure.

"Physicians and the public have exclusively focused on drug therapy to the detriment of at least one of the foundations of good health-appropriate nutrition," she said.

Thiamin, also called vitamin B1, helps the body to digest carbohydrates and perform other functions. Like other B vitamins, thiamin is not stored in the body, so poor diet can lead to deficiency in a relatively short period of time and possibly worsen the symptoms of heart failure. Although thiamin deficiency has not been extensively studied among heart failure patients, the researchers said that there are several reasons to be concerned about the problem. For instance
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Contact: Amy Murphy
amurphy@acc.org
301-581-3476
American College of Cardiology
13-Jan-2006


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