A weak heart due to metabolic change
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The heart derives its energy primarily from fatty acids. However, if a metabolic shift to other energy sources takes place, this can result in congestive heart failure, scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital have now discovered. This underscores the role of metabolism in heart failure. In addition, these findings are relevant for the use of certain anticancer drugs.

Provided everything goes well, by the time a person turns 75, the heart will have pumped almost 180 million liters of blood through his or her body. To do so, it beats approximately 100,000 times a day, precisely and without any rest, in order to supply the body with oxygen and other vital substances down to its tiniest capillaries. However, up to three million people in Germany have a weary pump: They suffer from cardiac insufficiency, also called congestive heart failure, and hence from symptoms such as shortness of breath, buildup of excess watery fluid, and diminished exercise capacity. Eventually, the condition becomes life-threatening.

“It has been known for a while that congestive heart failure results in a change in metabolism,” said Andreas Fischer from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) in Heidelberg.

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