Thursday, 23 June 2016

A case of chemotherapy-induced congestive heart failure successfully treated with Chinese herbal medicine



A case is presented to illustrate a potential effect of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) formulas in treating chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity.

Clinical presentation

An 18-year-old adolescent male with refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) had experienced anthracycline-induced congestive heart failure (CHF) for 3 weeks. Under intensive care with conventional therapy, the patient still had exercise intolerance and depended on supplemental oxygen all day. Therefore, he consented to treatment with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for alternative therapy.

Interventions and outcomes

This patient was treated with modified Zhi Gan Cao Tang (ZGCT), three times a day for 2 months. After 6 days of CHM treatment, the patient could tolerate daily activity without supplemental oxygen. After 2 months of CHM treatment, the follow-up chest X-ray showed great improvements in pulmonary edema and cardiomegaly.


In this case, anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity resolved slowly following the administration of modified ZGCT. It is suggested that the CHM formula has a protective effect on the progression of CHF secondary to the use of anthracyclines in pediatric cancer. Further studies to determine the mechanism and clinical trials are warranted.


  • Traditional Chinese medicine;
  • Chemotherapy;
  • Heart failure;
  • Zhi Gan Cao Tang
Corresponding author at: Department of Chinese Medicine, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, No. 123, Dapi Road, Niaosong District, Kaohsiung 83301, Taiwan. Tel.: +886 77317123x2334; fax: +886 77317123x2335.