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BACKGROUND: Chronic heart failure (CHF) is associated with abnormalities of skeletal muscle metabolism. This may be due to impaired oxygen delivery as a result of endothelial dysfunction. AIMS: We postulated that ascorbic acid would improve oxygen delivery to exercising muscle and improve skeletal muscle metabolism. METHODS: We studied skeletal muscle metabolism using (31)P magnetic resonance spectroscopy in 39 CHF patients. Endothelial function was assessed by changes in pulse wave velocity. Subjects were randomised to receive 4 g ascorbic acid daily for 4 weeks in a placebo-controlled double-blind study. RESULTS: Ascorbic acid significantly increased phosphocreatine utilization during exercise. In addition, glycolytic ATP synthesis increased in the ascorbic acid group (change in rate of ATP synthesis at 1 min -0.21+/-0.76 with placebo, 2.06+/-0.60 following ascorbic acid; p<0.05). Phosphocreatine and ADP recovery after exercise were not changed. The fall in pulse wave velocity during reactive hyperaemia was increased by ascorbic acid from -6.3+/-2.6% to -12.1+/-2.0% (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that ascorbic acid increased both phosphocreatine utilization and glycolytic ATP synthesis during exercise in patients with CHF implying worsened skeletal muscle metabolism despite improvements in endothelial function.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Heart Fail

Publication Date





287 - 291


Adenosine Triphosphate, Aged, Ascorbic Acid, Chronic Disease, Double-Blind Method, Endothelium, Vascular, Female, Great Britain, Heart Failure, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Male, Middle Aged, Muscle, Skeletal, Phosphocreatine