Cochrane LibraryHawthornHeart DiseaseProf. Ernst

Benefits of hawthorn to treat heart failure

Professor Ernst and colleagues from the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth in the UK report significant benefit in symptom control and physiologic outcomes from hawthorn extract when included in the treatment for chronic heart failure.

First, the details.

  • The reviewers identified 14 studies to include in the article.
  • 10 studies of 855 patients with chronic heart failure provided data suitable for combined re-analysis (meta-analysis).
  • The degree of heart failure ranged from mild to moderate limitations in activity due to symptoms (New York Heart Association classes I to III).

And, the results with hawthorn compared to placebo.

  • The maximal workload of the heart was significantly greater with hawthorn.
  • Exercise tolerance was significantly increased by hawthorn.
  • The pressure-heart rate product (a measure of oxygen use by the heart) improved significantly.
  • Symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue improved significantly with hawthorn treatment.
  • One study reported no benefit in lower mortality and morbidity due to heart-related events in patients with advanced heart failure.
  • Adverse events were infrequent, mild, and transient — including nausea, dizziness, and heart and gastrointestinal complaints.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “These results suggest that there is a significant benefit in symptom control and physiologic outcomes from hawthorn extract as an adjunctive treatment for chronic heart failure.”

Similar conclusions were reach following a review conducted in 2003.

3/8/08 10:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.