Can I give my 85 year old mother supplements with her medication for CHF?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother suffers with CHF which is a result of years of suffering with high blood pressure. She is having problems sleeping and is also experiencing 'bad feeling' in her stomach. Any kind of activity causes severe shortness of breath. She has almost given up because she thinks that she isa burden. Her blood pressure is consistently high now even with the medication and I believe the sick feeling occurs when the pressure is high. Normally she takes methyl dopa, atenolol 50mg, lasix. Her doctor recommended nifedipine only when the pressure is extremely high. She has been in and out of the hospital on numerous occasions. I was reading about the nutritional supplements given to a 91 year old with the same condition and was wondering if I could give my mom these supplements- CoQ10, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin B, Vitamin C and Hawthorne Berry together with her medication. I want to try anything that will help make her more comfortable.
I anxiously await your response. Thank you.

Expert Answers

Rebecca S. Boxer, MD is a geriatric heart failure specialist and an assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She is a nationally recognized expert on aging and heart disease.

I am so sorry to hear of your mother's condition. Heart failure is very common in older adults and can be quite disabling. I strongly recommend that she consult with a cardiologist who specializes in heart failure if there is a specialist available in your area, most large hospital systems or university based programs have heart failure specialists. It is hard to know exactly the appropriate treatment for your mother without knowing the details about her case and the type of heart failure that she has. However, I will tell you the following:

  1. Salt restriction to 2000mg a day or less can be very helpful to control fluid build up and shortness of breath. has an article on tips for reducing sodium.

  2. Based on the medications that you have reported that she takes, she is not on guideline medication management recommended by the American Heart Association. ( The appropriate medication management can greatly reduce symptoms and shortness of breath.

  3. Controlling blood pressure on a daily basis (with regular dosing, not with intermittent dosing) is key to controlling symptoms.

  4. Poor kidney function is common in older adults with heart failure and should be evaluated as a contributor to her symptoms.

  5. Supplements are no match for the severity of heart disease which you are describing. They will not necessarily harm her, but unlikely to give her any relief. Check with the doctor before giving any minerals or vitamins.