• By Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD

Coenzyme Q10: Help for Heart Failure?

An estimated 23 million people worldwide suffer from heart failure, a condition in which the heart loses the ability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Proper medical management and lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy body weight and eating less sodium (salt), can improve the outlook for people with heart failure. Now we may be able to add coenzyme Q10 supplementation to this list.

A daily CoQ10 supplement may improve heart health in people with heart failure

Pooling the data for answers of the heart

Researchers used meta-analysis to combine data from 13 previous clinical trials to study the effects of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation on heart failure. The doses of CoQ10 used in these studies ranged from 60 to 300 mg per day. All of the studies measured the New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional classification and/or ejection fraction to assess the severity of heart failure.

The NYHA functional classification provides a way to categorize the extent of heart failure, and ejection fraction refers to the percentage of blood by volume that is pumped out of the heart with each beat. Normal ejection fraction ranges from 50 to 75%, depending on how it’s measured. People with heart failure often have ejection fractions below 40%, and most people feel symptoms, such as fatigue, when this number drops below 25%.

Compared with people not selected to take CoQ10 supplements, ejection fraction improved an average of 3.7% and there was a small improvement in the NYHA functional classification score in people who supplemented CoQ10. Doses below 100 mg of CoQ10 per day seemed more effective than higher doses, and the supplement was more effective in people with less severe heart failure.

Smart moves to bolster heart health

This study suggests that a daily 60 to 100 mg CoQ10 supplement may improve heart health in people with heart failure. Our tips can help you learn about other steps to minimize heart failure risk and better manage the condition if you already have it:

  • Know your risks. Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and sleep apnea all can increase heart failure risk. If any of these apply to you, work with your health care team to develop a plan to safeguard your heart health.
  • Control your risks. Being overweight, smoking, not getting enough physical activity, and alcohol and drug abuse all increase heart failure risk, but these are things we can change. Ask your doctor and dietitian to help you address these conditions and issues before they affect your heart health.
  • Know your history. Let your doctor know if you have a family history of heart failure, or have been treated for cancer. Both of these things can increase heart failure risk.
  • Consider ethnicity. African Americans are at higher risk of developing heart failure than other ethnic groups. Managing conditions that more commonly affect African Americans, including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and kidney disease can lower heart failure risk as well.
  • Manage mental health. Depression can increase heart failure risk, and people with heart failure have higher risk of depression. Ask your doctor about effective ways to treat existing depression. And because regular exercise can improve depression and help manage heart failure, ask your doctor to help you develop a safe plan to increase physical activity.
  • Sack sodium. Sodium (salt) can worsen heart failure. Meeting with a dietitian to develop a lower-sodium eating plan you can stick with will go a long way toward improving your heart health.

(Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.040741)

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.

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