When someone is initially diagnosed with heart failure they are classified according to the New York Heart Association Classification System depending on severity. There are four classes from mild to severe. The group in the most severe class has a death rate of 74% within a 6 month period and a 94% death rate within a 12 month period. I would consider that a very grim outlook.
Coenzyme Q10 is a vital nutrient produced by the body that plays a very important role in the formation of energy within the cell. It has been noted that the organs which require the most energy production, such as the heart, are most susceptible to becoming deficient in coenzyme Q10. Such a deficiency has been closely linked to the development and/or worsening of heart failure. Studies have also demonstrated improvement in heart failure patients who are supplemented with coenzyme Q10.
There is one big problem, however…
People who wait until the heart failure is at its worst level can’t seem to absorb enough coenzyme Q10 to energize the heart. One result of heart failure is a buildup of fluid in the body called edema and it is believed that a backup of fluid in the intestinal system decreases absorption of coenzyme Q10 and thus limits the usefulness of this nutrient in people who need it the most.
There is new hope…
A recent study evaluated the effect of two forms of coenzyme Q10 on patients diagnosed with the worst form of heart failure (class IV). First they gave the 7 patients an average dose of 450 mg of standard coQ10 called ubiquinone. Coenzyme Q10 blood levels only increased marginally which was insufficient to improve the ability of the heart to beat stronger. Then the researchers switched the patients to the newer form of coenzyme Q10 called ubiquinol. This form is believed to be better absorbed, retained and utilized by the body. The results were amazing! The coenzyme Q10 blood levels shot up to where we would expect significant clinical results, and that is exactly what we got. The heart ejection fraction, a measure of how much blood the heart is able to pump to the organs, nearly doubled from 22% to 39%! The researchers described the clinical improvements as “remarkable” as every one of the patients improved significantly decreasing in class from level IV to level II. All seven patients started out in the worst stage of heart failure and at least 6 out of 7 of the patients would not have been expected to survive the 12 month study, however, after 12 months 6 out of 7 patients were still alive and listed as “stable”. The one patient who died had stopped the new coQ10 after three months despite improvements in his heart function.
Although this study is very small, the results are significant enough for me to recommend the ubiquinol form of coenzyme Q10 for anybody who has been diagnosed with heart failure. The cost of this nutrient is higher than standard CoQ10, however, it is worth the expense if the difference is a working heart. Although this study used an average of 580 mg of ubiquinol, a smaller dose will likely suffice due to its increased bioavailability. I recommend that anybody who has been diagnosed with heart failure use between 200 and 300 mg of ubiquinol, more if your symptoms are more severe.
Shouldn’t everyone use the ubiquinol form?
If you are healthy, you can likely use the standard coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) supplement. If you have particular conditions that may require a more aggressive program then I recommend switching to the ubiquinol. If you don’t know which would be more appropriate for you, please feel free to drop me an email at [email protected]
(BioFactors. December 2008;32:119-128)