The long-term double blind, placebo-controlled study split 420 European and Asian patients between 100mg of CoQ10 three times per day (202 people) and placebo (218). After two years 25% of patients in the placebo group had a major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE), compared to 14% in the study group.
Mortality and hospitalisations were also lower in the study group. Over the two year period 18 patients died in the CoQ10 group (9%) compared to 36 (17%) in the placebo group.
“Despite the large number of studies critics have remained sceptical about the benefits of CoQ10, largely because none of these studies had been sufficiently powered to look at overall survival,” said lead author, professor Svend Aage Mortensen, from the Heart Centre, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark.
“These results are guideline changing, making a strong case for CoQ10, a natural substance that’s virtually without side effects, to be considered as part of the maintenance therapy for all patients with chronic heart failure.”
At three months into the trial the study found CoQ10 reduced levels of NT-proBNP (a heart failure biomarker).
Patients came from Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, India, Malaysia and Australia. The data was presented at the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology in Lisbon.
Despite the findings, Mortensen warned patients should consult medical advice before embarking on supplementation.
“To ensure no adverse interactions it would be a good idea to undertake an extra INR monitoring in patients taking anticoagulation therapy as with changes in diet or taking other new medications,” he said.
The research has been picked up by the likes of the Daily Mail newspaper in the UK, which noted about 100,000 Brits die each year due to heart failure, which affects nearly a million people.
CoQ10 has not been validated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for heart health benefits but is commonly taken in conjunction with heart disease statin drugs.
Mortensen concluded: “CoQ10 is the first medication to improve survival in chronic heart failure since ACE inhibitors and beta blockers more than a decade ago and should be added to standard heart failure therapy.”
Peter Lambrechts from the world's biggest CoQ10 supplier, Kaneka, which supplied the CoQ10 in the trial, said the findings, "showed CoQ10 to have pharma-style therapeutic power, shown in a golden standard pharma-type clinical study."
CoQ10 has properties similar to vitamins, but since it is naturally synthesised in the body it is not classed as such. With chemical structure 2,3-dimethoxy-5-methyl-6-decaprenyl-1,4-benzoquinone, it is also known as ubiquinone because of its 'ubiquitous' distribution throughout the human body.
The coenzyme is concentrated in the mitochondria - the 'power plants' of the cell - and plays a vital role in the production of chemical energy by participating in the production of adenosince triphosphate (ATP), the body's socalled 'energy currency'.
Presented at congress of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology
Abstract no 440
‘The effect of Coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure. Results from the Q-SYMBIO study.
Authors: S.A. Mortensen, A. Kumar, P. Dolliner et al.