Could Statin-Induced CoQ10 Deficiency Cause Heart Failure?

| May 30, 2013

Recently, a medical conference took place in Lisbon, Portugal. At this conference, researcher Professor Svend Mortensen from Copenhagen, Denmark presented the results of a study into the impact of the nutrient coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) on individuals with heart failure (weakened power in the heart, which can lead to a range of symptoms including breathlessness, fatigue and swollen lower legs due to fluid build-up). In this study, individuals with severe heart failure were given 100 mg of CoQ10, three times a day, in addition to their normal care for 2 years. Outcomes were compared with a similar group receiving normal care and a placebo.

While I do not have the details of the study, according to a report the results were that CoQ10 therapy basically halved the number of ‘major adverse cardiovascular events’ (such as heart attack and strokes). CoQ10 also roughly halved the overall risk of death. Previous research had found that CoQ10 could improve heart function [1]. This is the first study, apparently, to show that CoQ10 has the capacity to save lives in individuals suffering from heart failure.

I think this study has profound implications for individuals taking statins. That’s because statins block the production of CoQ10 in the liver. This substance participates in the production of energy within the ‘mitochondria’ – the tiny powerhouses within almost all the body’s cells. Lower levels of CoQ10 may of course contribute to fatigue and reduced functioning in the muscles of the body, including the heart.

So, if you follow the logic, if CoQ10 can help heart failure patients, then heart failure may be caused by a CoQ10 deficiency in some cases, and in some of those cases the cause or contributing factor may be statins.

The idea that statins may cause or contribute to heart failure is not new. Earlier this year, for instance, a study was published which linked the use of the statin simvastatin with lower levels of CoQ10 and reduced activity in the mitochondria. I wrote about this issue back in January, when I also quoted from another study [3] regarding the ability of statins to cause CoQ10 depletion.

Here’s the quote again, as I believe it neatly sums up how I feel about the issue, and I would encourage all doctors who prescribe statins to take note:

“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.”

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.


Reference:

1. Fotino AD, Effect of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on heart failure: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;97(2):268-75

2. 1. Larsen S, et al. Simvastatin Effects on Skeletal Muscle – Relation to Decreased Mitochondrial Function and Glucose Intolerance. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013;61(1):44-53

3. 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

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