CoQ10 and Heart Failure

May 05, 2014

CoQ10 and Heart Failure 

 Reference   Mortenson European Heart Journal 2013 

 Half of us die with heart failure as one of the significant contributing factors to our death.  That’s what death is, your heart finally giving up.  A failing heart can only pump 20% or so of its volume with each beat.  A healthy heart can push out about 60%.   You can live a pretty decent life with 40%, though you will be limited and can’t do everything.  The goal of  heart failure therapy is to get your heart to push out more than 20%.  Improving from 20% to 29% is a huge win. That’s what CoQ10 will help you do.  

Prof. Mortenson from Denmark, gave a poster presentation at the European Heart Meetings and presented his findings on CoQ10 use in heart failure.  In this study, 420 patients from all over the world with severe heart failure were given CoQ10 in addition to their usual medications and then observed for how long it took them to have a major cardiac event (including admission for heart failure to a hospital).  Taking CoQ10 halved the admission rate!  They lived longer.   Out of the hospital is better! 

 What does CoQ10 do?  Here is a simple explanation of its physiology.   Your heart is 33% mitochondria, and 66% muscle fiber.  The mitochondria make energy, the muscle burns it.  It’s a pretty simple formula.  If you look at cardiac cells, you can see the huge number of mitochondria.  They comprise 33% of the weight of that cell!  Essentially, mitochondria turn fat molecules into carbon dioxide and water, and make ATP in the process.  Just like a gasoline engine, they turn hydrocarbons into productive energy.  

Unfortunately, some of the electrons in the electron transport chain escape and attach themselves to oxygen, making ROS (Reactive oxygen species) or Oxidants.  That highly reactive oxygen is like a little hand grenade and is very damaging to the mitochondria.   As the mitochondria get damaged from the ROS, it loses efficiency.  And as it loses efficiency, the heart cell loses efficiency. In effect, if we can make the analogy to a gasoline engine, it’s as though our cylinders are leaking and we are getting less compression.  We still burn the energy but our core energy production is damaged.   Our horsepower wavers.  Our pumping ability gets worse. 

 Now, there is pretty good evidence that you need more than CoQ10.  With damaged mitochondria, the first thing to fall apart are their membranes and lots of good stuff leaks out. You may want to replenish the good stuff that leaks out too. That would mean you need supplements of ribose (what you make ATP from – 1 grams a day), magnesium, (what your stabilize ATP and many other proteins with - 400 mg a day), and carnitine (what your mitochondria use to transport fat – fuel – into the mitochondria. 1 gram a day).   We’ve known this for a while.   Vitamin D helps too. 

 Now, your brain has as many mitochondria as your heart.  If it’s happening to your heart, guess what!  And as we hit age 50, we start making less CoQ10, just by being older. 

 WWW. What Will Work for Me?  What seems to matter is the quality of CoQ10.  Ubiquinol is better than CoQ10.  If you take a statin, you destroy CoQ10.  And many heart and diabetes drugs deplete it.  A pretty good formula is that you need about 100 mg of CoQ10 a day for every heart and diabetes medication you are on.   I gave my father this regimen when his heart was at a 20% ejection fraction and he was in desperate Stage IV failure.  He got up to 29%, and out of the hospital for 3 extra years.  Just with supplements, a 30% boost.  If you know anyone with heart failure who doesn’t know about this, please have them see a functional medicine doctor – forward them this email.  In the meantime, you might consider it for yourself.   

 Pop Quiz 

 1.  CoQ10 is a pharmaceutical drug that should be given to folks with failure.  T or F              Answer:  False and True. It is not a drug.  It's naturally inside you but declines as we age so that it can't protect our power production in our mitochondria.  Yes, we should take it as we age. 

 2.  Our heart is 10% by weight mitochondria.  T or F                  Answer:  Wow, you really missed the details.  It's 33%!  Just like your brain. 

 3.   Heart medications dramatically deplete CoQ10.  T or F                    Answer.  Bingo. Sad but true. 

 4.   Ubiquinol is a better form of CoQ10.  T or F                     Answer:  Yes.  It's worth it.  Pay for it. 

 5.  You can see up to a 30% boost in cardiac output when you take a mix of all the missing micronutrients your mitochondria need.  T or F                Answer:  Yup.  Try it.  You might like it.  Can take up to a month to feel the full effect.   And prove it with repeated ECHOs.  You will become a believer (and a closet functional medicine doctor to boot)