Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) cuts mortality by half in patients with heart failure, researchers from Denmark reported at the annual meeting of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology, which took place in Lisbon, Portugal this year.
Professor Svend Aage Mortensen and team explained that Coq10 is the first medication to improve heart failure mortality in over ten years and should be included in standard treatment. CoQ10 is an essential enzyme that occurs naturally in the body. It works as an electron carrier in the mitochondria, the energy-producing powerhouse of cells, to produce energy. CoQ10 is also a potent antioxidant.
Patients with heart failure have lower levels of CoQ10. As heart failure severity gets worse, so does CoQ10 deficiency.
The pros and cons of statins – statins are prescribed for people with heart failure because they reduce the production of cholesterol. However, statins also block CoQ10 synthesis, further exacerbating the problem.
According to previous double-blind, controlled human studies, CoQ10 improves symptoms and functional capacity of patients with heart failure. Another advantage of CoQ10 is that it is not linked to any undesirable side effects. Until the start of this latest study, no human trials that could measure CoQ10’s effect on heart failure patients’ survival had been done.
A human study involving 420 severe heart failure patients, called Q-SYMBIO, compared randomly selected individuals who were either on CoQ10 or placebo. They were monitored for 24 months. The study’s primary endpoint was “time to first MACE” (major adverse cardiovascular event), which included unplanned hospital admission because of worsening heart failure symptoms, cardiovascular death, mechanical circulatory support, and urgent cardiac transplantation. Participants resided in Australia, Malaysia, India, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Sweden and Denmark.
The researchers reported that CoQ10 reduced the risk of MACE by approximately 50%. 14% of the CoQ10 participants reached the primary endpoint during the study period, compared to 25% in the placebo group.
The patients in the CoQ10 group had considerably lower cardiovascular mortality and incidences of hospitalizations for heart failure compared to those on placebo.
Adverse events were reported in significantly fewer CoQ10 patients.
Prof. Mortensen wrote:
“CoQ10 is the first medication to improve survival in chronic heart failure since ACE inhibitors and beta blockers more than a decade ago and should be added to standard heart failure therapy.
Other heart failure medications block rather than enhance cellular processes and may have side effects. Supplementation with CoQ10, which is a natural and safe substance, corrects a deficiency in the body and blocks the vicious metabolic cycle in chronic heart failure called the energy starved heart.”
CoQ10 can be found in certain foods, especially red meat, fish and poultry. Soybean oil, canola oil, peanuts, sesame seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, eggs, pistachios and eggs also have varying amounts of CoQ10. However, dietary sources of the enzyme are not enough to have a significant impact on heart failure.
CoQ10 can also be bought OTC (over the counter, no prescription required) as a food supplement. However, Prof. Mortensen stressed that the enzyme can affect how some medications work, such as coagulants. Patients on medications should check with their doctors before considering buying CoQ10 supplements.
CoQ10 might also help patients with ischemic heart disease.
Prof. Mortensen said “We have no controlled trials demonstrating that statin therapy plus CoQ10 improves mortality more than statins alone. But statins reduce CoQ10, and circulating CoQ10 prevents the oxidation of LDL effectively, so I think ischaemic patients should supplement statin therapy with CoQ10.”
Written by Christian Nordqvist