WHAT WE DO
Our clinical research program based at Tufts Medical Center, Boston studies nutritional health and metabolism in patients with HF.
Many of our research projects are observational studies, where we record information such as dietary intake, blood samples to measure the chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind (metabolomics), muscle mass via several different imaging techniques and muscle strength. Other projects are clinical trials, where we study an intervention, such as a food program or dietary supplement, to determine the effects on muscle strength or symptoms.
LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE DO AT NUTRITION HF
Despite impressive progress in the development of medications for HF, much less is understood about the impact of dietary intake or nutritional supplements for patients with HF. Our long-term goal is to identify new therapies to prevent and reverse skeletal muscle wasting to improve the health of patients with HF. We are also studying the use of “food as medicine” to improve HF stability and physical function.
HOW DOES NUTRITION IMPACT HEART HEALTH?
Although the optimal diet for patients with malnutrition or muscle wasting during HF is not yet known, we do have a lot of more information about nutrition and heart health in general. Many observational studies have shown that dietary patterns rich in vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats and healthy oils can prevent HF and other cardiovascular diseases, whereas a high intake of sugar, salt, animal fats, transfats and processed meats increases the risk of heart disease. It is also clear that maintaining a normal-range weight and avoiding obesity is key to preventing HF over the lifespan. For individuals already diagnosed with HF a heart-healthy diet is also recommended and for those who are losing weight unintentionally it is also important to eat sufficient protein to maintain a normal-range weight and adequate muscle mass.
"Over the years I have been counselled to restrict dietary sodium to reduce symptoms of heart failure, restrict dietary potassium when my kidneys have been slow to remove potassium from my body, restrict leafy green vegetables when I was taking coumadin for anticoagulation, and avoid all raw and unwashed foods after transplantation. These restrictive dietary recommendations can leave little room to work out what it is safe to or how to consume an adequate amount of protein and calories."
“When I was experiencing the greatest problems with the heart failure, I often felt full with only small amounts of food intake and had a low appetite. My appetite for foods would vary from day to day, making it difficult to consistently eat enough calories and protein in particular.”