Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation Improves Endothelial Function

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April 26, 2011

Coenzyme Q10 supplementation improves endothelial function in ischemic left ventricular systolic dysfunction

Coenzyme Q10 supplementation improves endothelial function in ischemic left ventricular systolic dysfunction

An article published online on February 17, 2011 in the journal Atherosclerosis reports a benefit for supplementation with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) on the endothelial function of patients with ischemic left ventricular systolic dysfunction, a cause of heart failure. Endothelial dysfunction, which describes the malfunctioning of the cells that line the blood vessels, is a key event in the development of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong divided 56 men and women diagnosed with ischemic left ventricular systolic dysfunction to receive 300 milligrams coenzyme Q10 per day or a placebo for eight weeks. Endothelial function was evaluated via brachial artery flow-mediated dilation prior to and following the treatment period, and blood samples were analyzed to determine fasting glucose, mitochondrial function (as determined by plasma lactate/pyruvate ratio), markers of oxidative stress, and other factors.

By the end of the study, coenzyme Q10 levels increased threefold among those who received the supplement, while remaining unchanged in the control group. Participants who received CoQ10 experienced improvements in endothelial function which correlated with increased mitochondrial function. The benefit of the coenzyme appeared to be greater in those with more severe endothelial and mitochondrial dysfunction. No effects on blood pressure, lipids, glucose, C-reactive protein or oxidative stress were observed in association with CoQ10 supplementation, which suggests that the benefit observed in this study is due to CoQ10's positive effects on mitochondrial function.

"These findings provide new insight into how coenzyme Q10 improves endothelial function via correction of mitochondrial function," the authors write. "The beneficial effect of coenzyme Q10 appears to be more pronounced in patients with a lower flow mediated dilation and higher lactate/pyruvate ratio at baseline, and in those with a history of prior myocardial infarction. These findings suggest that coenzyme Q10 supplementation reverses endothelial dysfunction in these groups of patients with significant cardiovascular risks on top of their optimal medical therapy without any adverse effect."

"Whether coenzyme Q10 supplementation in patients with ischemic heart failure can improve clinical outcome merits further studies," they add.

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Health Concern

Congestive heart failure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart cannot pump efficiently enough to supply the body with freshly oxygenated blood. It affects about 5 million people in the United States. Within 5 years, medical experts predict that about half of these patients will have died of their conditions (American Heart Association 2004). Hoping to prolong survival, patients with CHF are typically treated with an array of powerful medications that have been shown to increase survival, often at a high cost. The conventional drugs used to treat CHF have significant adverse effects and, in many cases, implantation of a lifesaving medical device, or even having a heart transplant, may be necessary.

CHF that occurs on the left side of the heart is characterized by an enlarged and weakened left ventricle. Left-sided heart failure may result in inadequate amounts of blood being pumped through the body and includes symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue.

Studies have shown that nutrients and supplements can strengthen the heart muscle, with fewer side effects than the powerful pharmaceuticals often used to treat the condition. CoQ10 is one of the most powerful.

The goal with nutrients and supplements is the same as with conventional medication: to slow the gradual enlargement and weakening of the heart. This process, which occurs in all forms of CHF, is called cardiac remodeling. During cardiac remodeling, the heart gradually changes shape, becoming larger and thinner. Cardiac remodeling is the driving force behind the reduced quality of life experienced by patients with CHF (Fedak PW et al 2005; Weisberg AD et al 2005).

By reinforcing the heart's function, it may be possible to slow cardiac remodeling. In this regard, CoQ10 has been studied since the middle 1960s. Present in high quantities throughout the heart muscle, CoQ10 has many beneficial effects, including energy production (Awata N et al 1980; Crane FL et al 1997; Nakamura Y et al 1982; Nayler WG 1980), an antioxidant effect (Frei B et al 1990), and stabilizing the heart membrane (Ondarroa M et al 1986).

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