One possible way to address congestive heart failure is to improve the production of energy of the heart muscle cells. In heart failure, the heart is literally energy starved. Ribose is a five carbon sugar that is part of the ATP molecule (adenosine triphosphate). Taking ribose may be a way to increase the energy production of the heart cells, according to an article in Progressive Cardiovascular Nursing (2009 Jun;24(2):59-60).

Animal studies have shown the value of d-ribose to heart function. A study that appeared in Science (1983 Apr 1;220(4592):81-2)Another study, that appeared in Cell Physiology and Biochemistry (2009;24(3-4):211-8. Epub 2009 Aug 3) found that rats who were given an IV infusion of d-ribose (200 mg/kg/h) one day prior to the induction of a myocardial infarction. When compared to the control group, rats treated with ribose had a smaller area of infarction and better left ventricle function. Another study on rats that appeared in Progressive Cardiovascular Nursing (2009 Jun;24(2):59-60) found that ribose normalized depressed heart function in rats.

There have been some small clinical trials. Research that appeared in the European Journal of Heart Failure (2003 Oct;5(5):615-9) found that ribose supplementation improves ischemic threshold and enhances diastolic function in congestive heart failure. The small study showed improvement to patients’ quality of life and improvement of cardiac function with ribose supplementation. Another small study that was published in the International Journal of Cardiology (2009 Sep 11;137(1):79-80. Epub 2008 Jul 31) looked at 16 patients with class III or class IV heart failure. They were given five grams of ribose three times each day. At the end of eight weeks, all patients had a significant improvement in ventilatory parameters at anaerobic threshold, along with a 44% Weber class improvement. Ribose improved the ventilatory exercise status in advanced heart failure patients.

Ribose is a simple, inexpensive treatment with few (if any) side-effects. Considering that standard medical care for patients with heart failure is not extremely successful, it may be worth trying.