Background: Vitamin C deprivation can lead to fatigue, dyspnea, oedema and chest pain, which are also symptoms of heart failure (HF). In animal studies vitamin C has improved contractility and mechanical efficiency of the heart. Compared with healthy people, patients with HF have lower vitamin C levels, which are not explained by differences in dietary intake levels, and more severe HF seems to be associated with lower plasma vitamin C levels. This meta-analysis looks at the effect of vitamin C on left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF).
Methods: We searched for trials reporting the effects of vitamin C on LVEF. We assessed the quality of the trials, and pooled selected trials using the inverse variance, fixed effect options. We used meta-regression to examine the association between the effect of vitamin C on LVEF level and the baseline LVEF level.
Results: We identified 15 trials, three of which were excluded from our meta-analysis. In six cardiac trials with 246 patients, vitamin C increased LVEF on average by 12.0% (95% CI 8.1-15.9%; P < 0.001). In six non-cardiac trials including 177 participants, vitamin C increased LVEF on average by 5.3% (95% CI 2.0-8.5%; P = 0.001). In meta-regression analysis we found that the effect of vitamin C was larger in trials with the lowest baseline LVEF levels with P = 0.001 for the test of slope. The meta-regression line crossed the null effect level at a baseline LVEF level close to 70%, with progressively greater benefit from vitamin C with lower LVEF levels. Some of the included trials had methodological limitations. In a sensitivity analysis including only the four most methodologically sound cardiac trials, the effect of vitamin C was not substantially changed.
Conclusions: In this meta-analysis, vitamin C increased LVEF in both cardiac and non-cardiac patients, with a strong negative association between the size of the vitamin C effect and the baseline LVEF. Further research on vitamin C and HF should be carried out, particularly in patients who have low LVEF together with low vitamin C intake or low plasma levels. Different dosages and different routes of administration should be compared.
Keywords: antioxidant; coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG); heart failure; left ventricular function; oxidative stress; percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI); randomized trials; systematic review.
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