CoQ10 is short for coenzyme Q10, a fat-soluble compound. It has several important functions; it acts as an anti-oxidant, helps make ATP or cellular energy, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the worsening of heart failure. Your body naturally produces CoQ10 but certain drugs can inhibit this activity, namely the statins. Cholesterol-lowering medications or statins (e.g. atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, pravastatin, lovastatin, and simvastatin) are the most prescribed medications to lower cholesterol levels, ultimately to prevent heart attacks and strokes. If your CoQ10 production is reduced, how does that affect you? Read on to find out how.
How effective is CoQ10 for hypertension?
In 2007, a review of clinical trials revealed that CoQ10 lowered the systolic blood pressure (top number of a blood pressure reading) by an average of 17 mm Hg and the diastolic blood pressure (bottom number of a blood pressure reading) by 10 mm Hg compared to patients who didn’t take CoQ10. Blood pressure effects were not immediate. Most patients saw blood pressure changes after four weeks of taking CoQ10.
How effective is CoQ10 for heart failure?
Heart failure involves a pumping failure (heart isn’t as strong to force blood to the rest of the body) or a filling problem (the heart’s ventricles won’t fill up to capacity so the blood output is less). Low CoQ10 levels in the heart muscle have been linked to worsening heart failure. In 2014, there was a two-year clinical trial in which heart failure patients were given CoQ10 100 mg three times a day in addition to their standard regimen. After two years, the treatment group had a 50% less risk for serious cardiovascular events compared to the placebo group. Further analysis showed that there was less cardiovascular death and fewer hospitalizations within the treatment group.
Can CoQ10 supplementation help if I take a statin?
Yes. A 12-week clinical trial investigated the daily use of CoQ10 in patients taking statins. The study revealed higher CoQ10 levels and
anti-oxidant activity (measured by enzymes) compared to placebo. In addition, there were lower levels of the inflammatory markers, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor. These markers are not merely signs of an ongoing inflammatory process. They are risk factors for future problems. Studies have shown that elevated levels of interleukin-6 can increase the risk of diabetes mellitus; this may explain why statin-users have a higher chance of becoming diabetic. High levels of tumor necrosis factor are usually found in heart failure patients. Tumor necrosis factor works against the heart, making it more difficult to pump blood.
CoQ10 200 mg daily is a natural way to replenish this heart-friendly anti-oxidant in your body. Here’s a tip from the pharmacist: do not take CoQ10 with warfarin (Coumadin®). The drug combination can make warfarin less effective, so as always, notify your physician if you plan on taking CoQ10 or other supplements.
About the Author
Dr. Karine Wong has over 12 years of clinical experience as a clinical hospital pharmacist, manager and lecturer. She has taught numerous pharmacotherapy lectures to nurses, medical interns and pharmacy students in Southern California. In 2013, she published Call Me Doctor, her first fiction novel. Currently, she contributes articles on www.rxeconsult.com, a website for healthcare professionals.