CoQ10 (aka Coenzyme Q10) is a highly popular supplement, especially favored by those with heart conditions. Let’s dig into the undisputed facts, unfulfilled hopes, and some exciting new data surrounding CoQ10.
The Undisputed Facts:
- CoQ10 is a chemical the body needs to make energy
- Statins lower the level of CoQ10 in the blood
- CoQ10 levels are depleted from failing hearts
CoQ10 and Statins
Since statins lower the level of CoQ10, and CoQ10 is needed to make energy, it is perfectly logical to suspect that the supplementation with CoQ10 could treat statin related muscle aches. Despite the logic underlying this approach, research findings have been inconsistent in identifying benefit from CoQ10 in patients with statin induced side-effects.
A recent CoQ10 study (see reference), with a more rigorous selection process and higher dose of CoQ10 than used in prior trials, showed no significant benefit of CoQ10 in treating statin related muscle pain.
Overall, the data for CoQ10 as a treatment for statin related muscle pain is not highly suggestive of benefit. However, it is still possible that certain patients may benefit. Many clinicians-myself included-have identified patients with statin related muscle pains who seem to have improved with CoQ10. It’s impossible to know if the benefit was a placebo or biologic effect. The upside is that the risks of CoQ10 appear to be very small. The downsides are cost and bother of taking an added pill.
Beyond CoQ10, there are several strategies more likely to be effective for statin related side-effects (see reference).
But there’s much more to the CoQ10 story. Read below for some exciting new data regarding heart failure….
CoQ10: Success with (Heart) Failure
There is a strong link between declining levels of CoQ10 in patients with heart failure and the severity of reduced pumping function and shortness of breath. A growing body of evidence has emerged showing the benefits of repleting depleted levels with supplemental CoQ10 in patients with heart failure.
A recently published trial studied 420 patients with heart failure receiving the best conventional medical therapy: half were randomized to receive CoQ10 and half to placebo. Over 2 years of follow-up, those taking CoQ10 had 50% fewer “major” heart complications-including 43% fewer deaths. And this benefit came with no increase in side-effects. In fact, there was a trend toward fewer side-effects in the CoQ10 group than in those taking a placebo!
This finding is supported by a recent large review of 13 prior studies that showed an overall benefit in pumping ability of weak treated with CoQ10.
The CoQ10 story is a fascinating one and continues to evolve. If you feel that you might benefit from CoQ10, share this information with your health care provider. Please remember: always consult with your health care provider before changing your prescription medicine in any way or starting a new supplement.