A combination of the trace element selenium and the vitamin-like compound coenzyme Q10 appears to be a highly useful treatment for people with impaired cardiac function.
Heart failure is a major problem for the middle-aged and elderly but emerging science has shown a huge potential for selenium and coenzyme Q10 as a natural treatment that can help patients to increased heart muscle performance and improved quality of life.
Most recently, Iranian scientists from the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences demonstrated1 that selenium and coenzyme Q10 given to patients with heart failure significantly increased the contractile strength of the heart muscle and resulted in a number of improvements in the general condition of the patients, thereby enabling them to cope more easily with their condition.
The patients, all of whom where NYHA class II and III patients (there are four NYHA classes and class IV patients have the worst symptoms - see box), were randomly assigned to either selenium and Q10 supplements or dummy pills (placebo) for a three-month period. 64 patients participated in the study, which is published in the Iranian Heart Journal
Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that combination therapy with selenium and coenzyme Q10 led to clinical improvements that warrant further study of the two natural compounds.
54% fewer deaths
A few years ago, a group of Swedish cardiologists tested the combination of selenium and coenzyme Q10 in the first trial2 of its kind. Their study was carried out on healthy seniors in the ages 70-88 years. Half of the participants were given selenium and coenzyme Q10, while the other half got placebo. After a five-year study period, the scientists observed a 54% lower cardiovascular mortality rate among those who had been given selenium and coenzyme Q10 compared with the placebo group. Also, the heart muscle performance in this group had improved significantly. The study is published in the International Journal of Cardiology and made headlines across the globe.
Another Scandinavian study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), Heart Failure, was conducted by Danish scientists and only involved coenzyme Q10. 420 patients with chronic heart failure were assigned to either coenzyme Q10 or placebo as add-on therapy to their conventional regimen of heart drugs. The study lasted for two years and showed that among the patients who were treated with coenzyme Q10, there were 42% fewer heart-related deaths. Also, heart muscle performance improved significantly and there was a substantially lower rate of hospitalizations among the patients who got coenzyme Q10.
Iranian Heart Journal, 2015;15(4)
International Journal of Cardiology. 2013 Sep 1;167(5):1860-6
JACC Heart Failure. 2014 Dec;2(6):641-9
What does NYHA mean?
Heart failure patients are normally categorized in four so-called NYHA groups (New York Heart Association), depending on how seriously affected they are by their condition. Things like breathing difficulty, chest pain etc. are used to determine their condition.
NYHA Class Symptom description
I No symptoms and no limitations in ordinary physical activity, e.g. shortness of breath when walking, climbing stairs, etc.
II Mild symptoms (mild shortness of breath and/or angina) and slight limitation during ordinary activity
II Marked limitation in activity due to symptoms, even during less-than-ordinary activity, e.g. walking short distances (20-100 meters). Comfortable only at rest.
IV Severe limitations. Experience symptoms even while at rest. Mostly bed-bound patients.
Reference: The Criteria Committee of the New York Heart Association. Nomenclature and Criteria for Diagnosis of Diseases of the Heart and Great Vessels. 9th ed. Boston, Mass: Little, Brown & Co; 1994:253-256.