Coenzyme Q10 heart, Cardiovascular disease

Increasing scientific evidence suggests that coenzyme Q10 is a safe and effective therapy for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, mitral valve prolapse and angina. It has also been used to treat patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. Coenzyme Q10 appears to exert its beneficial effects both by improving energy production and by acting as an antioxidant.

Coenzyme Q10 heartIn a study published in 1994, researchers at the University of Texas Karl looked at the usefulness of long-term coenzyme Q10 therapy in clinical cardiology. Over an eight-year period, they treated 424 patients with various forms of cardiovascular disease by adding coenzyme Q10, in amounts ranging from 75 to 600 mg/day to their treatment programs.

Patients were divided into six diagnostic categories including ischemic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, primary diastolic dysfunction, hypertension, mitral valve prolapse and valvular heart disease.

The patients were followed for an average of 17.8 months. The researchers evaluated clinical response according to the New York Heart Association (N YHA) functional scale and found significant improvements in all the patients. Out of 424 patients, 58 per cent improved by one NYHA class, 28 per cent by two classes and 1.2 per cent by three classes. Statistically significant improvements in heart muscle function were shown using a variety of laboratory tests. Before treatment with coenzyme Q10, most patients were taking from one to five cardiac medications, and during the study, overall medication requirements dropped considerably with 43 per cent of patients stopping between one and three drugs. Only 6 per cent of the patients required the addition of one drug. No apparent side effects from coenzyme Q10 treatment were noted other than a single case of transient nausea. The researchers concluded that coenzyme Q10 is a safe and effective treatment for a broad range of cardiovascular diseases, often in combination with other medications, as it produces improvements in a variety of symptoms and reduces medication needs.

Heart failure

Biopsy samples from patients undergoing cardiac surgery and blood samples from patients with congestive heart failure suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction and energy starvation caused by coenzyme Q10 deficiency contributes to heart failure. The improved cardiac function in patients with congestive heart failure treated with coenzyme Q10 supports this theory.

Several controlled studies using coenzyme Q10 in patients with heart failure have been published. The main clinical problems in patients with congestive heart failure are the frequent need of hospitalization and the high incidence of life-threatening complications. In an Italian study published in 1994 researchers investigated the safety and clinical effectiveness of coenzyme Q10 in treating congestive heart failure that had been diagnosed at least six months previously and treated with standard therapy including digitalis, diuretics and vasodilators. This study involved 2664 patients in NYHA classes I and II, and most of them received 100 mg per day of coenzyme Q10. After three months of treatment, improvement in at least three symptoms was seen in 54 per cent of patients which the researchers interpreted as indicating an improved quality of life.


Coenzyme Q10 deficiency is often seen in patients with hypertension, and several studies have shown beneficial effects of coenzyme Q10 supplements. In a 1994 study, 109 patients with hypertension were treated with an average dose of 225 mg of coenzyme Q10 per day in addition to their existing anti-hypertensive drugs. Most of these patients had been diagnosed with hypertension for a year or more before the study started. Results showed a definite and gradual improvement in symptoms and a reduced need for medication within the first one to six months. Fifty one per cent of patients came off between one and three anti-hypertensive drugs about four months after starting coenzyme Q10 therapy. After this period, blood pressure and medication needs stabilized. Echocardiograms were performed on 39 per cent of the patients at the beginning of the study and during the treatment. In 9.4 per cent of cases, highly significant improvements were seen.

In another study, 26 patients with essential arterial hypertension were treated with 50 mg of coenzyme Q10, twice daily for ten weeks. Blood plasma levels of coenzyme Q10, blood serum total and beneficial HDL cholesterol, and blood pressure were determined in all patients before and at the end of the ten-week period. At the end of the treatment, average systolic blood pressure decreased from 164.5 to 146.7 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure decreased from 98.1 to 86.1 mmHg.

Serum total cholesterol decreased from 222.9 mg/dl to 213.3 mg/dl and serum HDL cholesterol increased from 41.1 mg/dl to 43.1 mg/dl. The researchers also used a test to measure the resistance to blood flow in peripheral blood vessels which showed significant improvements. The results from this study suggest that coenzyme Q10 lowers cholesterol and decreases blood pressure by opening up blood vessels and reducing the resistance to blood flow.


Cardiomyopathy is the term used for any disease which affects the structure nnd function of the heart. Coenzyme Q10 deficiency is often found in blood and heart muscle of cardiomyopathy sufferers, and several studies have shown that therapy with coenzyme Q10 produces improvements in heart function as it improves energy production in the muscle. In a 1997 study, seven patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy were treated with an average of 200 mg/day of coenzyme Q10. All patients noted improvement in symptoms of fatigue and shortness of breath.


Coenzyme Q10 may help prevent atherosclerosis as it can protect against oxidative damage to fats. In a 1993 Japanese study, researchers measured levels of coenzyme and also levels of various types of cholesterol and other blood fats in 378 people. These included 249 people with no coronary artery disease, 29 patients with the disease who were receiving pravastatin, (a cholesterol-lowering drug) and 104 patients with the disease who were not receiving pravastatin. In the patient groups, the plasma total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels were higher and the plasma coenzyme Q10 level lower than in those with no disease.

The researchers found that coenzyme Q10 levels, either alone or when expressed in relation to LDL levels, were significantly lower in the patient groups compared with those with no disease. They concluded that coenzyme Q10 therapy would be beneficial in patients with atherosclerosis.

Heart surgery

Coenzyme Q10 may help to prevent 'ischemia reperfusion injury, one of the main problems that occurs in coronary artery bypass surgery. This term refers to the oxygen-induced damage caused when the blood supply is returned to the heart and arteries after having been cut off during surgery. The heart muscle and the linings of the arteries suffer, and this greatly increases the risk of subsequent coronary artery disease.

A number of medical studies have shown that giving patients coenzyme Q10 supplements before surgery can reduce the damage caused when blood flow is returned. In a 1996 study, 30 patients due to undergo elective surgery for heart disease were randomly divided into two groups. Patients in group 1 received 150 mg of coenzyme Q10 for seven days before the operation and those in group II received a placebo. Scientists then assessed the amount of oxidative damage by measuring the levels of certain enzymes and chemicals during the surgery. Results showed that those patients who had taken coenzyme Q10 suffered less damage than those who had not.


Some small studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 supplements can be beneficial in the treatment of angina. In a 1985 Japanese, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, crossover study, the effects of coenzyme Q10 on exercise performance were studied in 12 patients, average age 56 years, with stable angina pectoris. The study involved multistage treadmill exercise tests. The patients were given three daily doses of 50 mg of coenzyme Q10 for four weeks, and results showed a reduction in frequency of angina attacks from 5.3 to 2.5 attacks for two weeks. Consumption of the angina medication, nitroglycerin, was also reduced.

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