BeriBeri and Heart Disease Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome
All B vitamins help the body convert food (carbohydrates) into fuel (glucose), which the body uses to produce energy. Thiamine deficiency can cause heart such as congestive heart failure.
Sometimes people will come into the hospital with sign and symptoms of congestive heart failure. However, for some reason, health professionals do not look at thiamine deficiency as the cause of heart failure.
Beri-beri Heart Disease| BeriBeri Thiamine Deficiency
These B vitamins often referred to as B -complex vitamins help the body metabolize fats and protein. B-complex vitamins are needed for a healthy liver, skin, hair, and eyes. They also help the nervous system function properly and are needed for good brain function.
All B vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that the body does not store them.
Like other B-complex vitamins, thiamine is sometimes called an “anti-stress” vitamin because it may strengthen the immune system and improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions. It is named B1 because it was the first B vitamin discovered.
It is rare to be deficient in thiamine, although alcoholics, people with Crohn disease, anorexia, and those undergoing kidney dialysis may be deficient. Symptoms of thiamine deficiency are:
- A headache
- Abdominal discomfort
People with thiamine deficiency also have trouble digesting carbohydrates. This allows a substance called pyruvic acid to build up in the bloodstream, causing a loss of mental alertness, difficulty breathing, and heart damage..
Beriberi Definition and Treatment
Beriberi of the heart is a very serious disorder. However, the only one beriberi of the heart is treated is by supplementing B1 or thiamine.
The most important use of thiamine is to treat beriberi, which is caused by not getting enough thiamine in your diet. Symptoms include:
- Swelling, tingling, or burning sensation in the hands and feet
- Trouble breathing because of fluid in the lungs
- Uncontrolled eye movements (nystagmus)
- Beriberi heart failure
- Beriberi heart disease
People in the developed world usually do not get beriberi because foods such as cereals and bread are fortified with vitamin B1.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome Wet VS Dry Beriberi
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a brain disorder caused by thiamine deficiency. Wernicke-Korsakoff is actually two disorders.
Wernicke disease involves damage to nerves in the central and peripheral nervous systems.
It is often caused by malnutrition due to alcoholism. Korsakoff syndrome is characterized by memory problems and nerve damage.
High doses of thiamine can improve muscle coordination and confusion but rarely improves memory loss.
Preliminary evidence suggests that thiamine, along with other nutrients, may lower the risk of developing cataracts.
People with plenty of protein and vitamins A, B1, B2, and B3 (or niacin) in their diet are less likely to develop cataracts.
Getting enough vitamins C, E, and B complex vitamins, particularly B1, B2, B9 (folic acid), and B12, may further protect the lens of your eyes from developing cataracts. More research is needed.
Lack of thiamine can cause dementia in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. So researchers have speculated that thiamine might help Alzheimer’s disease.
Oral thiamine has been shown to improve the cognitive function of patients with Alzheimer’s.
However, the absorption of thiamine is poor in elderly individuals. More research is needed before thiamine can be proposed as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Thiamine may be related to heart failure because many people with heart failure take diuretics (water pills), which help rid the body of excess fluid.
But diuretics may also cause the body to get rid of too much thiamine. A few small studies suggest that taking thiamine supplements may help.
Taking a daily multivitamin should provide enough thiamine.
Low levels of thiamine are associated with depression. In one study of elderly Chinese adults, poor thiamine levels were associated with a higher risk of depression.
What Foods Should You Eat If You Have Beriberi
Large amounts can be found in:
- Organ meats
Other good dietary sources of thiamine include:
- Whole-grain or enriched cereals and rice
- Wheat germ
- Brewer’s yeast
- Blackstrap molasses
Available Forms of Thiamine
Vitamin B1 can be found in multivitamins (including children’s chewable and liquid drops), B complex vitamins, or it can be sold individually.
It is available in a variety of forms, including tablets, soft gels, and lozenges. It may also be labeled as thiamine hydrochloride or thiamine mononitrate. In cases of severe deficiency, thiamine can be administered intravenously.
These are home remedies for Beriberi.
How to Take Thiamine
As with all medications and supplements, check with your healthcare provider before giving vitamin B1 supplements to a child.
Daily recommendations for dietary vitamin B1, according to the National Academy of Sciences, are as follows:
Pediatric Thiamine Dosage
- Newborns, 6 months: 0.2 mg (adequate intake)
- Infants, 7 months to 1 year: 0.3 mg (adequate intake)
- Children, 1 to 3 years: 0.5 mg (RDA)
- Children, 4 to 8 years: 0.6 mg (RDA)
- Children, 9 to 13 years: 0.9 mg (RDA)
- Men, 14 to 18 years: 1.2 mg (RDA)
- Women, 14 to 18 years: 1 mg (RDA)
Adult Thiamine Dosages
- Men, 19 years and older: 1.2 mg (RDA)
- Women, 19 years and older: 1.1 mg (RDA)
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women: 1.4 mg (RDA)
Doctors determine the appropriate doses for conditions like beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Doctors give thiamine intravenously for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
A daily dose of 50 to 100 mg is often taken as a supplement. Thiamine appears safe in these doses. But you should talk to your doctor before taking a large amount.
Side Effects of Thiamine
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable healthcare provider.
Thiamine is generally safe. Very high doses may cause stomach upset.
Taking any one of the B vitamins for a long period of time can result in an imbalance of other important B vitamins. For this reason, you may want to take a B-complex vitamin, which includes all the B vitamins.
Possible Interactions of Thiamine
If you are currently taking any of the following medications, you should not use vitamin B1 without first talking to your doctor.
Digoxin: Laboratory studies suggest that digoxin, a medication used to treat heart conditions, may reduce the ability of heart cells to absorb and use vitamin B1. This may be particularly true when digoxin is combined with furosemide (Lasix, a loop diuretic).
Diuretics (water pills): Diuretics, particularly furosemide (Lasix), which belongs to a class called loop diuretics, may reduce levels of vitamin B1 in the body. It is possible that other diuretics may have the same effect. If you take a diuretic, ask your doctor if you need a thiamine supplement.
Phenytoin (Dilantin): Preliminary evidence suggests that some people taking phenytoin have lower levels of thiamine in their blood, which may contribute to the side effects of the drug. However, this is not true of all people who take phenytoin. If you take phenytoin, ask your doctor if you need a thiamine supplement.
Questions and Answers About Beriberi and Heart Disease
1. How does thiamine deficiency cause heart failure?
Thiamine has a direct impact on cardiomyocytes. The cardiomyocytes are responsible for energy production, which would also improve cardiac function.
2. What is the main cause of thiamine deficiency?
According to Pubmed, “The prevalence of thiamine deficiency in HF patients ranges from 21%-98%. Several risk factors can contribute to thiamine deficiency in patients with and without heart failures such as inadequate dietary intake, excess alcohol ingestion, malabsorption syndromes, and medications (such as diuretics, phenytoin, penicillins, cephalosporins, aminoglycosides, tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, sulfonamides, and trimethoprim). Comorbid conditions such as infection, trauma, surgery, cancer, fever, and persistent diarrhea and vomiting can also contribute to thiamine deficiency”.
Can thiamine deficiency be reversed?
The research says that some health problems associated with low thiamine can be reversed. However, some of the problems like peripheral neuropathy or heart failure need other treatments besides thiamine to get the person healthier.
How did beriberi cripple the Japanese Navy?
One of the main culprits for the development of beriberi is the consumption of white rice. In Japan, it was common for the wealthy to eat finely polished rice. Eating gleaming white rice was a status symbol. The poorer people ate white rice. However, the poor people who ate white rice did not get beri-beri.
Without thiamine, humans, and animals develop kakke, which is now known as beriberi.
If the outer layers of the grain of rice are removed, this process removes a vital nutrient called thiamine.
My name is Phyllis Robinson MSN, RN. I have been a Registered Nurse for 27 years in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. I am passionate about cardiac care and heart disease. I also want this blog to be an educational tool that people can refer to for traditional and alternative treatment. I will blog on heart disorders such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and high cholesterol.
I received my Nursing degree from Baltimore Community College.
I went on to receive my Masters in Nursing from Walden University
I have worked for almost 30 years in Critical Care with a focus on heart health. I am an advocate of preventive healthcare.