CoQ10 and your Heart

Human cardiac muscle
Human cardiac muscle

We are having a lot of questions asked at the moment surrounding Q10 so we thought it would be a good idea to put more information on the website so that people could reference it against the other pieces of information we have on what seems to be an ever popular topic for discussion. It has always been a popular topic with us so we are pleased it is being referenced more by patients.Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone / Ubiquinol which is synthesised from Ubiquinone and is highly absorbent and more potent than Ubiquinone) is a mitochondrial coenzyme that is essential for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body’s form of chemical energy. The human body has approximately 100 trillion cells, and each one must produce its own energy to carry out its biological functions. The cells produce this energy by burning (oxidizing) carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This controlled burning or oxidation process (catabolic reactions) occurs as a result of oxygen combining with foodstuffs to produce energy, carbon dioxide and water. More than 95 percent of the oxygen we inhale is used solely for the purpose of making energy through this process. The result of these chemical reactions is converted into chemical energy in the form of ATP molecules. These ATP molecules supply the energy needed for the various cellular chemical and biological reactions necessary for life to occur (termed: bioenergetics). ATP is the fuel used to provide cellular energy, making life possible.CoQ10 was discovered by Frederick L. Crane, Ph.D., in the late 1950s, during his research on the biochemistry of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. The substance was sent to Karl Folkers, Ph.D., for identification and identity of its structure. It was designated “coenzyme Q10” because of its quinone structure and the 10 isoprene unit side chain. During this time, another group of scientists led by R. A. Morton, Ph.D., isolated the same substance from mitochondria and designated it ubiquinone (from ubiquitous, meaning everywhere) because of its widespread occurrence in nature. The role of CoQ10 in the electron transport chain was first described by Peter Mitchell, Ph.D., who was awarded the Nobel Prize for that work.

So how does this fit into a heart failure patients profile?

Cells that require the most energy contain a higher number of mitochondria. The more work required, the more energy needed. The cells of the brain, the skeletal muscle, the heart and the eye contain the highest number of mitochondria (as many as 10,000 per cell), while the skin cells, which do not require much energy, contain only a few hundred mitochondria. Cardiac cells are muscle cells whose function is to contract repeatedly, pumping blood continuously around the body. This means these cells need a large and continuous supply of energy to in order to function efficiently, so no surprise they have a large number of mitochondria within them. CoQ10 (being at the center of the creation of cellular energy) assumes significant importance in cells with high energy requirements, such as the cardiac cells.

Much of the research in support of CoQ10 supplementation has been focused on CHF. These patients’ hearts have been shown to have increased oxidative stress, as well as decreased concentrations of CoQ10.1,2 We already know heart muscle cells have a remarkably high-energy requirement. Consistent correlation between the level of CoQ10 and the severity of CHF appears to be a well-documented. Low levels of CoQ10 have been linked to decreased heart muscle function (poor myocardial function).3,4 The more severe the heart failure, the more the deficient the CoQ10 level is. Recently, it has been found that CoQ10 levels can be used as a predictor of mortality in CHF.

CoQ10 has a potential role for the prevention and treatment of heart ailments by improving cellular bioenergetics. Supplementation can help correct energy depletion and oxidative stress, which are inherent in these cardiac conditions; this can result in helping to restore the energy and efficiency of the heart. Significant improvement has been observed in exercise tolerance in patients given adjunctive CoQ10.7

Supplementation has been shown to cause sustained clinical improvement in the heart muscle contraction (improved ejection fraction, heart wall motion and heart size), and progress in improving other related symptoms (fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, exercise ability and palpitations).8 Some studies have showed significant development with NYHA class improving from a mean of IV to a mean of II.9 CoQ10 supplementation can also protect against ischemia and reperfusion injury.10 The improvement in some patients can be rather significant, with the heart size and heart function returning to near normal.

As we all know every patient is different  and CoQ10 supplementation should be used as a parallel therapy, supporting traditional medical treatment and not in place of it. As with all supplements it is vital that you speak to your doctor or nurse before starting on a self prescribed course. CoQ10 reacts with warfarin therefore may affect your INR levels.

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