LEUVEN, Belgium, June 24 (UPI) -- Exercise alone trumps exercise and creatine supplements for cardiac patients, researchers in Belgium found.
Researchers at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium designed a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial to test the effects of creatine supplements in cardiac rehabilitation patients. The supplements or a placebo were used alongside an exercise program for patients with coronary artery disease or chronic heart failure over a three-month period.
The study, published in Clinical Rehabilitation, concluded exercise alone was a far more powerful tonic for patients.
The researchers explain creatine -- found naturally in food, in particular meat -- is also produced in the human body for use by muscles, brain and heart.
Since creatine supplements improve muscle strength -- particularly for short-term, high-intensity exercise -- and have been used by athletes to maximize their training, the researchers proposed using creatine to help with endurance and muscle strength for patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation.
However, the 80 patients in the study showed no significant differences between those taking creatine and those taking a placebo.
"Contrary to our hypothesis, the magnitude of increase in muscle strength and/or endurance was not greater in the group with creatine supplementation," study supervisor Luc Vanhees said in a statement.