Keshan disease - Selenium for treatment of Keshan disease

Selenium and Keshan disease

Keshan disease is a deficiency condition caused by the dietary deficiency of selenium.

Keshan disease is a disease of heart muscle (congestive cardiomyopathy) which is potentially fatal.
It was first noted in the Keshan province in Heilongjiang, China.
It was later found to be prevalent in a wide belt extending from Southwest to Northeast China.
In 1960s this ailment had claimed thousands of lives.
The soils of these regions are found to be deficient in selenium.
Apart from China selenium soil deficiency is found to be prevalent in parts of Finland, Russia and New Zealand.
This ailment often found to afflict children and young women.

Causes of Keshan disease

This ailment is primarily caused by the dietary deficiency of the essential trace mineral Se.
Some medical experts believe that coxsackievirus B3 may be partly responsible for the development of this condition.
It is believed that benign Coxsackie B3 viruses may mutate to cardiotoxic strains in condition of selenium deficiency.


Initially there may be symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, fever and body pains.
The initial symptoms include heart inflammation, Arrhythmia, Cardiac insufficiency and enlargement accompanied by loss of heart muscle tissues.
Advanced stage is characterized by pulmonary edema and heart failure.


If an individual is having persisting symptoms a visit to medical professional is necessary to rule out the possibility of having the ailment.
Echo cardiogram is used to check for structural and functional problems of heart.
Resting ECG and stress ECG are taken to further determine the condition of heart.
Myocardium of the affected person shows mycolysis and multifocal necrosis with fibrous replacement.
Blood sample is taken and investigated for the selenium levels.


Treatment for this condition is by supplementation of Selenium in diet.
Many initial intervention studies showed the prophylactic effect of the inorganic sodium selenite.
If treated early the effects of this ailment can be reversed.
However damage to heart muscle cannot be reversed and the supplements can only stop further progress of the condition.
Smoking and alcohol must be totally avoided as they can worsen the condition of the heart.
Healthy balanced food rich in selenium must be consumed for early repair of the damaged tissues.
The patient must rest well and refrain from stressful activities so as to give the heart a chance to recover.
If necessary and if possible, surgery is performed to correct the heart condition.

Prevention of Keshan disease

Consuming food rich in selenium can ward off the occurrence of this health problem.
People living in regions deficient in soil Selenium must take supplements to protect themselves from occurrence of this condition.
The recommended dietary allowance for selenium is 55-60 mcg per day for an adult.
Pregnant women require 60 mcg of Selenium and lactating mothers require 70 mcg of selenium per day.
Inclusion of seafood, garlic, mushroom and Brazil nut (which is the richest source of selenium) in diet can help in preventing the onset.

No comments: