Congestive Heart Failure Improves with CoQ10

heart-shaped bowl of almonds
June 25, 2014 (Updated: August 21, 2018)
Lily Moran

Weakness…fatigue…swelling in the legs and abdomen…shortness of breath, even at rest…. When a patient comes to me with those symptoms, it’s a safe bet that congestive heart failure (CHF) is involved.

CHF affects some 5 million Americans and claims 40,000 lives each year.

CHF is so common among older patients that it sends more people age 65 and older to the hospital than any other condition. And while deaths from heart attacks are decreasing, deaths due to CHF are increasing rapidly.

CHF is caused by anything that weakens the heart or makes it more difficult to do its job.

So hardened or clogged arteries, a previous heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid or kidney disease, and other ailments can all lead to CHF.

If you’ve ever known anyone with CHF, you know how seriously it impacts quality of life. Walking across a room becomes a challenge. Exercising or walking up a flight of stairs? No Way! Enjoying life? Forget about it!

And meanwhile, the poor circulation that goes along with CHF deprives the body of fresh blood and oxygen, putting serious stress on your brain, kidneys, and muscles.

There is one thing that is tremendously helpful when it comes to treating CHF, though. Most mainstream doctors don’t talk about it, because it’s not a drug, so there’s no pharmaceutical company sales rep pushing them to prescribe it.

But I think you should know about it.

The typical conventional doctor treats CHF with drugs like diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and more. All these drugs have serious side effects–including dizziness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, and erectile dysfunction–that can be nearly as bad as CHF itself.

Fortunately, there’s a better choice for treating CHF: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a naturally occurring substance produced in the body.

Like most such substances, CoQ10 production slows as you grow older. Foods like organ meats, whole grains, nuts, yogurt, fresh fruits and veggies can supply some, but the amounts are far too low to be therapeutic.

That’s why I tell all my patients over 50 years of age–and especially those with CHF and anyone taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs–to take at least 200 mg of CoQ10 supplements daily, in divided doses (100 mg in the morning, and another 100 mg at night).  Importantly, CoQ10 can be taken in addition to most cardiovascular medications.

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Here’s an example of the difference CoQ10 supplements can make. A patient I’ll call Betty tried CoQ10 after her CHF became so bad that she struggled to breathe, even when lying down to rest.

After taking supplements for only six weeks, Betty came in for a recheck, happier than I’d ever seen her. “I felt better right away, but it took a little longer for my energy to come back,” she said. “And I can breathe again! I used to feel bad because I couldn’t do much with my grandkids when they came to visit. But last week, I took them on short walks–twice! I haven’t been able to do that in years.”

As I explained to Betty, CoQ10 helps heart cells produce energy, increasing the amount of blood the heart can pump. That means your organs get the oxygen and nourishment they need. But there’s another way CoQ10 can improve your health.

Mitochondria are the tiny “spark plugs” that produce your body’s energy, and control the growth, lifespan, and ability of your cells to communicate with one another.

Your heart has the highest concentration of mitochondria per cell in your body. A bicep muscle cell has about 40 mitochondria per cell, compared to about 4,000 in a heart muscle cell.

Aging takes a toll on mitochondria, causing them to go haywire. A growing number of experts now believe that faulty mitochondria are at the root of all diseases.

Clearly, it makes sense to protect and nourish your mitochondria. Of all the benefits CoQ10 provides, mitochondrial support is one of the most important.

A growing body of research shows that healthy mitochondria protect against serious ailments caused by mitochondrial disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

It’s especially important for anyone taking statins (Lipitor, Mevacor, Crestor, Zocor are a few of the most popular) for cholesterol management to also take CoQ10. Statins inhibit production of both cholesterol and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in your liver.

Lower cholesterol can help reduce your odds of cardiovascular disease, but reducing the amount of CoQ10 in the body is a recipe for disaster.

If your physician has you on statins, then he or she should also advise you to take CoQ10 supplements. If not, you should definitely take them anyway.

Don’t let CHF rob you of your health and vigor. CoQ10 can make a tremendous difference with this condition and many others. As my patient Will told me, “It’s hard to believe just one supplement can make me feel so much better, but this one really does!”

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