Keto diet can prevent, and potentially reverse, heart failure

Diets high in fat, including the increasingly popular ketogenic diet, may be able to “prevent or reverse” heart failure, according to a new study published in Nature Metabolism.

The study’s authors explained that issues with the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) complex can stop the heart from getting the nutrients it needs to properly function. When MPC expression decreases, it can cause the heart to fail—but working with mice models led to a discovery.

“Interestingly, this heart failure can be prevented or even reversed by providing a high-fat, low carbohydrate ‘ketogenic’ diet,” lead author Kyle S. McCommis, PhD, an assistant professor at Saint Louis University, said in a prepared statement. “A 24-hour fast in mice, which is also ‘ketogenic,’ also provided significant improvement in heart remodeling.”

High-fat, low-carb diets that can induce ketosis were associated with substantial improvements in mice with decreased cardiac MPC expression. Following such a diet for just three weeks, the authors found, was associated with the “reverse modeling” of failing hearts.

The keto diet, then, may lead to improved cardiac performance in humans as well. Additional research is still underway.

“Our study reveals a critical role for mitochondrial pyruvate utilization in cardiac function, and highlights the potential of dietary interventions to enhance cardiac fat metabolism to prevent or reverse cardiac dysfunction and remodeling in the setting of MPC-deficiency,” McCommis added.

Read the full analysis in Nature Metabolism here.

Prior Cardiovascular Business coverage of how the keto diet may impact a person’s heart is available here and here.