, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 1177-1192
Date: 21 Nov 2013

Oral Chinese herbal medicine for improvement of quality of life in patients with chronic heart failure: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Chronic heart failure (CHF) is not only a leading cause of death, hospitalization, and rehospitalization, but also significantly decreases quality of life (QoL). This study aims to evaluate published clinical trials of oral Chinese herbal medicine (OCHM) for improvement of QoL in patients with CHF that employ the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire (MLHFQ) score as an outcome measure.


A systematic literature search was performed using five databases up to June 2013 to identify randomized control trials (RCTs). RCTs involving OCHM plus conventional medicine treatment (CMT) with or without blinding, compared with CMT with or without placebo, with MLHFQ score as an outcome measure were identified. The methodological quality of RCTs was assessed independently using the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Review of Interventions. RevMan 5.2.5 and Stata 11.0 were used for data analysis.


Thirty-eight RCTs with a total of 3,170 participants were identified. The majority of the included trials were assessed to be of high clinical heterogeneity and poor methodological quality. The main results of meta-analysis showed improvement of total MLHFQ score when OCHM plus CMT compared with CMT with or without placebo [MD = −5.71 (−7.07, −4.36), p < 0.01].


There is some encouraging evidence of OCHM combined with CMT for the improvement of QoL in CHF patients. However, the evidence remains weak due to the small sample size, high clinical heterogeneity, and poor methodological quality of the included trials. Further, large sample size and well-designed trials are needed.