Could Statins Increase The Risk Of Heart Failure?

| June 30, 2014

Statins reduce cholesterol by inhibiting an enzyme in the liver known as ‘HMG-CoA reductase’. This enzyme ‘drives’ cholesterol production but it also facilitates the production of a substance known as ‘coenzyme Q10’ – an essential player in the production of what is known as ‘adenosine triphosphate’ (ATP) – the most basic unit of energy ‘fuel’ in the body. Evidence exists which finds that giving statins to people does indeed have the capacity to lower levels of CoQ10 in the body [1].

Depletion of CoQ10 is thought to be a major reason for why statins can reduce energy production (and therefore provoke fatigue) in muscles. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the heart is a muscle, and depleting it of CoQ10 may be hazardous for cardiac health. Specifically, it may weaken the heart and lead to what is known as ‘heart failure’. Previously, researchers have noted the ability for statins to induce CoQ10 depletion in both humans and animals [2]. In this particular review, the authors concluded that:

“Statin-induced CoQ10 deficiency is completely preventable with supplemental CoQ10 with no adverse impact on the cholesterol lowering or anti-inflammatory properties of the statin drugs. We are currently in the midst of a congestive heart failure epidemic in the United States, the cause or causes of which are unclear. As physicians, it is our duty to be absolutely certain that we are not inadvertently doing harm to our patients by creating a wide-spread deficiency of a nutrient critically important for normal heart function.”

Of course, the logical step might be to see if taking CoQ10 alongside a statin might mitigate any negative effects on heart function. Now, researchers have tested just this idea [3]. In this study, 62 individuals with heart failure were put on one of two regimes for 4 months.

1. a statin (atorvastatin 10 mg a day) plus 100 mg of CoQ10, twice a day

2. a statin (atorvastatin 10 mg a day) plus placebo, taken twice a day

The individuals in the study were subjected to a range of measurements including the heart’s ‘ejection fraction’ (basically, how much blood the heart pumps with each beat), and levels of the substance ‘N-terminal B-type natriuretic peptide’ (higher levels are generally found in worsened heart function). Compared to the placebo group, those taking CoQ10 were found to have better ejection fractions and lower levels of N-terminal B-type natriuretic peptide.

This study highlights the fact that statins can deplete CoQ10 and additional CoQ10 may be a useful therapy in those on statins, especially those who show signs of heart failure.

Here's to a healthy heart

Dr John Briffa
Editor
for The Cholesterol Truth



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Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


References:

1. Passi S, et al. Statins lower plasma and lymphocyte ubiquinol/ubiquinone without affecting other antioxidants and PUFA. Biofactors 2003;18(1-4):113-24.

2. Langsjoen PH, et al. The clinical use of HMG CoA-reductase inhibitors and the associated depletion of coenzyme Q10. A review of animal and human publications. Biofactors 2003;18(1-4):101-11.

3. Pourmoghaddas M, et al. Combination of atorvastatin/coenzyme Q10 as adjunctive treatment in congestive heart failure: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. ARYA Atheroscler. 2014;10(1):1-5.

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Category: Statin Drugs Side Effects

Comments (3)

Testimonials are based on the personal experience of individuals. Results are not typical and the potential benefits of taking any drug or supplement may vary depending on your individual needs and health requirements. Please consult your GP before making any changes to your medical regimen.

  1. Mark Whalley says:

    I’m 42 and have been taking 20mg of statins since I was 27 with no side effects. Unfortunately I’ve inherited the bad gene off my dad which will alwYs give me high cholesterol counts? My last blood test stated 8.7 so my doctor has upped my dose to 80mg which now I’ve countered heart murmurs which scares me! I’ve decided to reduce my intake back to 20mg but would love to not take any!! I will now take COQ10 200mg daily with a omega 3 fish oil capsule and start a strict diet and increase my excercise for 3 months and see what my count is then! Why do doctors think upping the dose is the answer??

  2. Elizabeth Joan Wade says:

    I take CoQ10 everyday but only after I suffered a life threatening statin-induced ADR that left me with severe irreversible muscle damage/wasting and almost killed me from heart failure. Dr John Briffa’s article seems to support the belief that statins are safe as long as it is combined with taking CoQ10. But GPs are in denial and fail to warn patients of the long list of extremely dangerous statin side effects and report ADRs to the MHRA. This drug should be banned: Major Side Effects of Statin Drugs – Statin Answers.

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