Clinical effects of a standardized Chinese herbal remedy, Qili Qiangxin, as an adjuvant treatment in heart failure: systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Jul 11;16:201. doi: 10.1186/s12906-016-1174-1.


Background: Qili Qiangxin capsule is a standardized Chinese herbal treatment that is commonly used in China for heart failure (HF) alongside conventional medical care. In 2014, Chinese guidelines for the treatment of chronic HF highlighted Qili Qiangxin capsules as a potentially effective medicine. However, there is at present no high quality review to evaluate the effects and safety of Qili Qiangxin for patients with HF.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis and followed methods described in our registered protocol [PROSPERO registration: CRD42013006106]. We searched 6 electronic databases to identify randomized clinical trials (RCTs) irrespective of blinding or placebo control of Qili Qiangxin used as an adjuvant treatment for HF.

Results: We included a total of 129 RCTs published between 2005 and 2015, involving 11,547 patients, aged 18 to 98 years. Meta-analysis showed no significant difference between Qili Qiangxin plus conventional treatment and conventional treatment alone for mortality (RR 0.53, 95 % CI 0.27 to 1.07). However, compared with conventional treatment alone, Qili Qiangxin plus conventional treatment demonstrated a significant reduction in major cardiovascular events (RR 0.46, 95 % CI 0.34 to 0.64) and a significant reduction in re-hospitalization rate due to HF (RR 0.49, 95 % CI 0.38 to 0.64). Qili Qiangxin also showed significant improvement in cardiac function measured by the New York Heart Association scale (RR 1.38, 95 % CI 1.29 to 1.48) and quality of life as measured by Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MD -8.48 scores, 95 % CI -9.56 to -7.39). There were no reports of serious adverse events relating to Qili Qiangxin administration. The majority of included trials were of poor methodological quality.

Conclusions: When compared with conventional treatment alone, Qili Qiangxin combined with conventional treatment demonstrated a significant effect in reducing cardiovascular events and re-hospitalization rate, though not in mortality. It appeared to significantly improve quality of life in patients with HF and data from RCTs suggested that Qili Qiangxin is likely safe. This data was drawn from low quality trials and the results of this review must therefore be interpreted with caution. Further research is warranted, ideally involving large, prospective, rigorous trials, in order to confirm these findings.

Keywords: Chinese herbal medicine; Heart failure; Meta-analysis; Qili Qiangxin capsule; Randomized clinical trials; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Young Adult


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • qiliqiangxin