Life Extension Magazine April 2014
CoQ10 Proven Benefits In Heart Failure Patients
By Bradley Tompkins
The European Journal of Heart Failure has published data from one of the most robust studies to date on coenzyme Q10.
This ten year study conclusively showed that CoQ10 supplementation significantly improves survival for even the most severe heart failure patients while radically reducing incidences of hospitalization.1
This new study shows that CoQ10 supplementation can restore deficient CoQ10 levels in patients with moderate-to-severe heart failure, extend lifespan, and improve quality of life.1
The compelling results from this 10-year-long study found that patients who took 100 mg of CoQ10 three times daily were…
- Significantly less likely to die from heart failure,
- Less than half as likely to die from any cause at all, and
- Half as likely to have a major adverse cardiac event during the study period, compared with control subjects.1
After only three months of supplementation, the researchers detected a trend towards reduced levels of a blood marker of heart failure severity that is released from over-worked heart muscle cells.1,2 At two years, significantly more treated patients had improved measurements of heart function than did placebo recipients.1
This impressive study demonstrates how CoQ10 offers important heart health benefits and how essential it is to cardiac patients. Ideally, the practice of cardiology will soon include CoQ10 as part of their protocol to improve the lives of those living with heart failure.
Most people have heard of heart failure, but few understand what it really is.
Contrary to what most people might think, heart failure does not mean that the heart stops beating. Rather, heart failure occurs whenever the heart is unable to pump enough blood to sustain normal function in other organs.3
Your heart is one of the hardest-working organs in your body; it literally never takes a rest. Beat after beat, hour after hour, day after day, for your entire life, your heart contracts and relaxes a little more than once per second, providing the blood flow that every other organ in your body relies on.
That much effort requires a steady supply of energy. And to perform at optimal function—literally without missing a beat—your heart needs to be able to derive that energy from its fuel (primarily fatty acids and glucose) efficiently and with little waste.4-6
In order to support this task, your mitochondria pump out a steady supply of energy derived from food. This is called bioenergetics.7 But your mitochondria don’t work alone. Just as a clean-burning automobile engine is more fuel-efficient and lasts longer than an out-of-tune one, the mitochondria need help maintaining top-level efficiency and performance.
CoQ10 is essential for the heart to maintain sufficient energy management.1,8 But when CoQ10 levels decline, tissues burn fuel inefficiently, eventually producing oxidative damage and ultimately losing their function. When the heart muscle loses its fuel efficiency, heart failure may occur.4,9
Research has shown that CoQ10 levels are lower in patients with heart failure and the lower the levels, the more severe the failure.8,10,11 In fact, heart failure patients with lower CoQ10 levels have up to a two-fold risk of dying compared to those with higher levels.12
CoQ10’s Heart-Healthy Track Record
Over the past 30 years, mounting evidence has been establishing CoQ10 as one of the most vital nutrients necessary for heart health.
CoQ10 has been known to benefit cardiac bioenergetics since the 1970s.13-15 In 1985, a small study found that patients with the most severe levels of heart failure experienced significant improvements in cardiac function and clinical state during CoQ10 treatment.6
Since then, other small studies showed similar improvement in clinical status and heart function testing, typically using doses of 100 to 200 mg/day.9,16 Roughly 75% of patients taking CoQ10 experienced improvements in cyanosis (bluish skin), liver enlargement, lung examinations, difficulty breathing, palpitations, sweating, heart arrhythmias, insomnia, vertigo, and nighttime urination.10,17
Several of the studies demonstrated an improvement in cardiac functional status, as determined by the New York Heart Association, reducing patients’ class levels of heart failure by an average of 0.5 compared with placebo.11,18,19 This means that heart failure patients could move from a strict Class II with limitations on physical activity to a class I-II with fewer or even no limitations resulting in substantial improvements in quality of life.
Other studies over the past 15 years or so showed small but significant improvements in objective measures of heart function, such as ejection fraction (the proportion of blood pumped out of the heart with each beat), stroke volume (volume of blood pumped with each beat), and cardiac output (total amount of blood pumped per minute).14,20
But it wasn’t until mid-2013 that results were published from the first comprehensive, double-blind, multi-center study demonstrating the dramatic, life-saving impact of CoQ10 supplementation in patients with chronic heart failure.
Landmark Study Shows CoQ10 Saves Lives Of Heart Failure Victims!
This new study showed that even in patients with the most severe classes of heart failure, CoQ10 supplementation can restore deficient CoQ10 levels, extending life span and improving quality of life.
The study, begun in 2003, included only the most severely affected patients (those in the New York Heart Association class III or IV).1 In addition to their regular medication, study subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 100 mg of CoQ10 or placebo 3 times daily. Each patient was followed up with a wide variety of outcomes measures for two years.
After only three months of supplementation, the researchers detected a trend towards reduced levels of proBNP, a marker of heart failure severity that is released from over-worked heart muscle cells.1,2 At two years,significantly more treated patients had improved their heart failure class than did placebo recipients.
But the study’s main endpoint measurement was the most dramatic indicator of success. Only 14% of patients in the supplemented group had a major adverse cardiac event (defined as unplanned hospitalization for worsening heart failure, death from a cardiovascular cause, urgent heart transplantation, or artificial mechanical heart support), while 25% of those in the placebo group had a major cardiac event.1 In statistical terms, that produced a “hazard ratio” of 2.0—meaning the untreated patients had twice the risk of a major cardiac event!
Compared with control patients, those taking CoQ10 experienced significantly fewer cardiovascular deaths and hospitalizations for worsening heart failure. The difference in death rate from all causes between the CoQ10 and placebo groups was striking. Subjects on placebo had twice the rate of death compared to those taking CoQ10.1 And, unlike most drug studies, there were significantly fewer adverse events in the supplemented group than in the placebo group.
This study was the first ever to show that CoQ10 supplementation in advanced heart failure improves survival, while slashing hospitalization rates.
It highlights the importance of regular supplementation with this cardiac “fuel additive” for anyone with heart failure or its risk factors, such as endothelial dysfunction, hypertension, and a history of a heart attack. Studies have shown that CoQ10 improves each of these risk factors for heart failure. Let’s look at each in turn.