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Dietary Nitrates Boost Muscle Power in Heart Failure Patients

Researchers say dietary nitrate consumption could help patients climb stairs and get out of a chair

FRIDAY, Sept. 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Beetroot juice, with its high concentration of nitrates, may help boost muscle strength among heart failure patients, according to a study published recently in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Based on studies of elite athletes, especially cyclists who use beetroot juice to boost performance, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis tested the benefits of dietary nitrate consumption among nine people with heart failure. The patients were given concentrated beetroot juice.

Two hours later, the participants showed a 13 percent increase in knee extensor power. The researchers also found the greatest benefit when the muscles performed fast, powerful actions. Longer tests measuring muscle fatigue, however, showed no performance improvement.

"It's a small study, but we see robust changes in muscle power about two hours after patients drink the beet juice," study author Linda R. Peterson, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine, said in a university news release. "A lot of the activities of daily living are power-based: getting out of a chair, lifting groceries, climbing stairs. And they have a major impact on quality of life. We want to help make people more powerful because power is such an important predictor of how well people do, whether they have heart failure, cancer, or other conditions. In general, physically more powerful people live longer."

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