Objectives: This study was performed to evaluate the effects of L-carnitine administration on long-term left ventricular dilation in patients with acute anterior myocardial infarction.
Background: Carnitine is a physiologic compound that performs an essential role in myocardial energy production at the mitochondrial level. Myocardial carnitine deprivation occurs during ischemia, acute myocardial infarction and cardiac failure. Experimental studies have suggested that exogenous carnitine administration during these events has a beneficial effect on function.
Methods: The L-Carnitine Ecocardiografia Digitalizzata Infarto Miocardico (CEDIM) trial was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial in which 472 patients with a first acute myocardial infarction and high quality two-dimensional echocardiograms received either placebo (239 patients) or L-carnitine (233 patients) within 24 h of onset of chest pain. Placebo or L-carnitine was given at a dose of 9 g/day intravenously for the first 5 days and then 6 g/day orally for the next 12 months. Left ventricular volumes and ejection fraction were evaluated on admission, at discharge from hospital and at 3, 6 and 12 months after acute myocardial infarction.
Results: A significant attenuation of left ventricular dilation in the first year after acute myocardial infarction was observed in patients treated with L-carnitine compared with those receiving placebo. The percent increase in both end-diastolic and end-systolic volumes from admission to 3-, 6- and 12-month evaluation was significantly reduced in the L-carnitine group. No significant differences were observed in left ventricular ejection fraction changes over time in the two groups. Although not designed to demonstrate differences in clinical end points, the combined incidence of death and congestive heart failure after discharge was 14 (6%) in the L-carnitine treatment group versus 23 (9.6%) in the placebo group (p = NS). Incidence of ischemic events during follow-up was similar in the two groups of patients.
Conclusions: L-Carnitine treatment initiated early after acute myocardial infarction and continued for 12 months can attenuate left ventricular dilation during the first year after an acute myocardial infarction, resulting in smaller left ventricular volumes at 3, 6 and 12 months after the emergent event.