Why Coenzyme Q10 May Help Your Heart

by on March 7th, 2015
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Although Coenzyme Q10 is not FDA approved in the US for Heart Health, some cardiologist and internist are recommending this supplement to their patients. Initially, it was used as a supplement to patients with muscle aches from statin (cholesterol-lowering drugs) therapy as the statins seem to deplete CoEnzyme Q10. However, in further reading, it appears that certain patients with heart failure may benefit from this supplement as it tends to improve cardiovascular function and endothelial function, which are these cells surrounding all blood vessels that constrict and dilate based on stress/inflammation or exercise and good overall health respectively.

Even in a few heart failure patients that I treat with standard drugs, I do suggest that these supplements may help resolve heart function (although again, not FDA approved, which is what I tell patients). I explain to patients that there is some data out of Europe on CoEnzyme Q10, but it is limited and anecdotal, but it won’t hurt to start it.

Here is a few studies that demonstrate some validity to the points I am making. The first study out of Italy studied 23 patients with moderate heart failure (20 men, three women, mean age 59±9 years) who had developed heart failure secondary to heart disease (as you will see in my other blog posts, there are many causes for heart failure include peri-partum cardiomyopathy, viral myocarditis, and alcoholic related heart failure), using a double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over design (Romualdo Belardinelli et al). Patients were either administered the following treatments: oral CoQ10 (100 mg 3 times per day), CoQ10 plus supervised exercise training (ET) (five times a week), placebo, and placebo plus ET. Each phase lasted 4 weeks.

Both peak VO2 and endothelium-dependent dilation of the brachial artery (EDDBA) improved significantly after CoQ10 and after ET as compared with placebo. The authors conclude: ” Oral CoQ10 improves functional capacity, endothelial function, and LV contractility in CHF without any side effects. The combination of CoQ10 and ET resulted in higher plasma CoQ10 levels and more pronounced effects”.

The second study also out of Italy (Luca Tiano et al) was a randomized controlled study of 33 patients (with heart disease, but no heart failure) who either received Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation (19 patients) (100 mg tid) and 14 placebo controls. The goal of the study was to determine if there was an improvement in extracellular superoxide dismutase (ecSOD) activity and endothelium-dependent (ED) vasodilation in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), which are signs of healthy arteries. The authors concluded: ” ecSOD, ED relaxation, as well as peak VO2 and O2 pulse increases in the CoQ10-treated group were statistically greater vs. the variations in the placebo group. In particular, improvements elicited by CoQ10supplementation were remarkable in subjects presenting low initial endothelium-bound ecSOD and thus more prone to oxidative stress.”

These two small studies do not prove that Coenzyme Q 10 absolutely works, but they are compelling. Unfortunately, there will not likely be any studies soon on many supplements as they are not work studying since they are readily available at drug stores. I do take the supplement, but you should only consider taking it after discussions with your physician.

1) Coenzyme Q10 and exercise training in chronic heart failure. Romualdo Belardinelli et al., Heart J (2006) 27 (22): 2675-2681.http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/27/22/2675.full

2) Effect of coenzyme Q10 administration on endothelial function and extracellular superoxide dismutase in patients with ischaemic heart disease: a double-blind, randomized controlled study. Luca Tiano et al. Eur Heart J (2007) 28 (18): 2249-2255 http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/28/18/2249.short

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