Many people suffer from chronic heart failure – often without knowing it. Numerous studies have shown that supplementing with Q10 can improve quality of life and even reduce mortality. An article published in Pharmacologic Therapy reviews the many Q10 studies and makes a point of saying that it is important to choose a Q10 preparation with good bioavailability.
Chronic heart failure affects millions of people worldwide. The disease develops slowly and occurs as a result of the heart not being able to contract with sufficient force to supply the entire body with blood. Symptoms of heart failure typically include physical exhaustion, breathing difficulty, and fluid retention. Other symptoms may be dry, persistent cough, chest tightness, increased sweating or cold sensitivity.
Chronic heart failure is a life-threatening disease that impairs your quality of life. The statistics show that around 33 per cent of those diagnosed with the condition do not survive the first year after being hospitalized with heart failure for the first time. That alone gives good reason to take proper care of your heart. The past three decades of research show that Q10 as a natural compound has an outstanding effect on heart performance, both in terms of preventing heart failure and as an adjuvant for conventional heart failure therapy. But what is Q10 really, and why it is that effective?
Caution: If you have had high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart valve defects or arrhythmia for many years, your risk of developing chronic heart failure is increased.
Q10 has several functions that benefit the heart and all of your cells
Q10 is a unique and essential coenzyme. Without it we would drop dead instantly. We humans synthesize most of our Q10 ourselves, but our endogenous production of the substance decreases as we grow older. Certain diseases such as chronic heart failure, and the use of cholesterol-lowering statins may also negatively affect our Q10 synthesis.
There are two main forms of Q10, ubiquinone and ubiquinol, each of which is necessary for the energy turnover in our cells.
- Ubiquinol is even a powerful antioxidant.
- Ubiquinone is the oxidized form of Q10, whereas ubiquinol is the non-oxidized (reduced) form.
The fascinating interaction
Ubiquinone and ubiquinol are continuously converted from one form to the other by means of enzymatic processes that include selenium. It makes no difference if you take one form of Q10 or the other. What matters is that you take a supplement which is absorbed properly. The body will handle the rest and convert the Q10 back and forth between its two forms, depending on the body’s needs.
Q10 is an important antioxidant that protects against atherosclerosis
In the blood and lymph system, Q10 (in the form of ubiquinol) is bound to LDL cholesterol. That way Q10 functions as a powerful antioxidant that protects the cholesterol and the blood vessel walls, thereby preventing atherosclerosis. Cholesterol in itself is an essential fat. However, if it
oxidizes it becomes dangerous, and it is the oxidation against which Q10 protects. In addition, Q10 protects the body’s cells against free radicals and oxidative stress.
Free radicals are aggressive molecules that attack lipids, cells, and tissues, causing a chain reaction. Ageing processes, stress, poisoning, inflammation, and radiation increase the number of free radicals. Different antioxidants constitute our protective “shield” against the free radical threat.
The heart contains a lot of Q10 and requires enormous amounts of energy
Inside the mitochondria, which are the small cellular “powerhouses”, Q10 (in the form of ubiquinone) converts fat, carbohydrate, and protein into ATP (the main energy source of our cells.)
95 per cent of the body’s energy turnover involves Q10 and oxygen – a process known as aerobic respiration.
Q10’s history and its role in chronic heart failure
Q10 was discovered in 1957 by the American scientist, Frederik Crane. He isolated the compound from beef heart tissue. In 1961, a British scientists named Peter Mitchell discovered how Q10 produces energy at a cellular level. He received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1978 for his work. In the beginning of the 1970s, Professor Karl Folkers discovered that chronic heart failure patients had lower levels of Q10 in their blood and heart tissue. Since then, numerous studies have managed to demonstrate a link between reduced Q10 levels and an increased risk of chronic heart failure and early death.
Levels of Q10 in the heart are lower in older people and heart failure patients
The content of Q10 in heart tissue generally decreases, as we grow older and are no longer able to produce as much of the substance in the body. In the beginning, it may be difficult to define the insidious changes that typically appear as a result of the body’s cells being undersupplied with blood and energy, for instance fatigue, shortness of breath, and other diffuse symptoms. Besides, it is documented that the risk of heart failure increases with age and, as mentioned earlier, patients with chronic heart failure generally have lower levels of Q10 in their blood and heart tissue, regardless of their age.
Q10’s therapeutic effect on chronic heart failure
The heart pumps day and night. It is the body’s main engine and therefore also the organ that contains and consumes most Q10. In connection with chronic heart failure, Q10 has the following therapeutic effect:
- Q10 is involved in the heart cells’ ATP synthesis (in the form of ATP)
- Q10 functions as an antioxidant that protects cell membranes and mitochondria
- Q10 serves as an antioxidant that protects the heart and coronary arteries against atherosclerosis
Controlled studies of Q10 and heart failure patients
In 1980, Folkers and Langsjoen conducted the first American study in which they treated 143 heart failure patients with Q10 for a period of six years. The study showed that the mortality rate among those patients who got Q10 was only one third of that observed among patients who did not receive the compound. Since then, several controlled studies have shown that Q10, when given to heart failure patients, is able to improve quality of life, reduce the need for hospitalization, and increase survival. Other than that, it appears that the ideal dosage for heart failure patients is around 300 mg daily. Also, in order to obtain the optimal effect it is vital to continue the treatment.
The Q-Symbio study: Less cardiac stress and 43 per cent fewer deaths
The (now deceased) Danish cardiologist, Chief Physician Svend Aage Mortensen, headed the large Q-Symbio study, which provides excellent documentation for Q10’s effect on chronic heart failure. The study included 420 heart failure patients from Europe, Asia, and Australia. All patients received conventional heart failure therapy. In addition, half of them were given three 100 mg capsules with Q10 daily, while the other half got the same number of dummy pills (placebo). After 16 weeks only, the researchers observed that, among those in the Q10 group, there were reduced levels of a protein called BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide), which the heart releases when it works under stress. Conversely, levels of BNP in the placebo group increased. In other words, supplementing with Q10 enabled the heart to pump with less effort.
Two years after the study had been initiated, there were 43 per cent fewer heart-related deaths in the Q10 group compared with the placebo group. Also, the need for hospitalization among patients in the Q10 group was significantly lower.
A shift of paradigm that gives new hope for heart failure patients
Doctor Svend Aage Mortensen called Q10 therapy a shift of paradigm in the treatment of heart failure. Even though the patients received what was considered the best medical therapy against heart failure at the time, the results were even better when Q10 was used as an adjuvant.
Unlike conventional medical therapy that aims at blocking hormonal factors involved in cardiac failure, Q10 is able to both support cellular energy turnover and protect the cells against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. In many countries such as Hungary, Italy, Canada, and Japan, doctors use Q10 to treat heart failure patients and they have good results with it. In fact, Q10 was one of the five most commonly used drugs used for heart failure in Japan as early as in 1981.
As we can see, doctors have been provided with a completely natural treatment for a very serious condition – and there are absolutely no side effects.
In some studies where Q10 supplementation has not proven effective, it is most probably because the dosages have been too low or because the preparations that were used had poor bioavailability.
Statin users have lower Q10 levels in their blood
Heart failure patients are often prescribed cholesterol-lowering medicine (statins) that are known to lower blood levels of Q10 by up to 40 per cent or more. It is therefore assumed that symptoms such as fatigue, poor concentration, muscle pain, and physical impairment may be related to the lack of Q10, and this is particularly troublesome for heart failure patients.
Supplements and dosages
When choosing a Q10 supplement, it is important to look for a product that can document its quality, bioavailability, and safety.
Generally speaking, the following guidelines apply:
Preventative dosage for healthy people: 30-200 mg (depending on age)
Heart (failure) patients: 300 mg
Elevated blood pressure: 120 mg
Statin users: 100-200 mg
Because Q10 boosts the energy turnover it is recommended to take the supplement in the morning. In the case of chronic disease and the use of larger dosages, it is better to split up the dosage in several smaller portions in order to obtain better absorption and utilization of the active compound.
Signs of a weak heart:
If you suspect that you have a weak heart or hypertension, consult your physician
The lower Q10 levels you have, the poorer your heart performs, and the more you are in need of a Q10 supplement
Sylvia Oleck, Hector O. Ventura: Coenzyme Q10 and Utility in Heart Failure: Just Another Supplement? Pharmacologic Therapy 2016
Mortensen SA et al. The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-Symbio: a randomized double-blind trial. JACC Heart Faiul 2014
Pernille Lund: Q10 – fra helsekost til epokegørende medicin. Ny Videnskab 2014