Relevance of nutritional assessment and treatment to counteract cardiac cachexia and sarcopenia in chronic heart failure



Chronic heart failure (CHF) is frequently associated with the involuntary loss of body weight and muscle wasting, which can determine the course of the disease and its prognosis. While there is no gold standard malnutrition screening tool for their detection in the CHF population, several bioelectrical and imaging methods have been used to assess body composition in these patients (such as Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry and muscle ultrasound, among other techniques). In addition, numerous nutritional biomarkers have been found to be useful in the determination of the nutritional status. Nutritional considerations include the slow and progressive supply of nutrients, avoiding high volumes, which could ultimately lead to refeeding syndrome and worsen the clinical picture. If oral feeding is insufficient, hypercaloric and hyperproteic supplementation should be considered. β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid administration prove to be beneficial in certain patients with CHF, and several interventional studies with micronutrient supplementation have also described their possible role in these subjects. Taking into account that CHF is sometimes associated with gastrointestinal dysfunction, parenteral nutritional support may be required in selected cases. In addition, potential therapeutic options regarding nutritional state and muscle wasting have also been tested in clinical studies. This review summarises the scientific evidence that demonstrates the necessity to carry out a careful nutritional evaluation and nutritional treatment to prevent or improve cardiac cachexia and sarcopenia in CHF, as well as improve its course.