CoQ10 and Heart Failure


CoQ10 and Heart Failure

Efficiency is king. From our computers and machines at work to our cars’ gas mileage on the commute home and the appliances in our kitchens, we continually seek efficiency in our everyday lives. Our hearts, too, strive to be as efficient as possible, pumping approximately 60 percent of their volume with each beat when healthy. A failing heart, however, pushes out only about 20 percent of its volume per beat. Indeed, the productivity gap between a healthy and a fading heart is rather large, but studies show diminishing this gap can greatly improve the length and quality of a person’s life.

According to a study presented by Dutch Professor Svend Aage Mortensen, one way to combat the effects of diminishing heart efficiency could be by supplementing treatment with coenzyme Q10, a nutrient found in mitochondria that contributes to the derivation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and metabolic energy. Mortensen studied 420 patients from all over the world suffering from severe heart failure who were given CoQ10 in addition to their usual medications. He monitored the patients, tracking how long it took them to have a major cardiac event, including hospital admission for heart failure. According to Mortensen’s study, taking CoQ10 halved the admission rate and subjects reported living longer and feeling better. “CoQ10 is the first new medication to improve survival in chronic heart failure and it should be added to standard therapy,” Mortensen said in a May 2013 press release published by the European Society of Cardiology.

Since nearly all cellular activities are dependent upon energy, CoQ10 is essential for the health of all human tissues and organs. The heart, along with the liver and kidneys, is among the organs requiring the most energy and, consequently, needing the highest CoQ10 concentrations. A third of the heart is comprised of mitochondria, with muscle making up the rest. Simply put, the mitochondria make energy and the muscle burns it. Therefore, if the mitochondria undergo damage – as they do when electrons escape the electron transport chain and form destructive reactive oxygen species (ROS) – the heart continues to burn the same amount of energy while producing less, thus losing efficiency.

In addition to considering CoQ10 supplements, it is important to note that, as mitochondria suffer damage, their membranes begin to deteriorate and leak various important substances. Replenishing these substances, such as ribose, magnesium and carnitine, may help improve heart efficiency as well.

Lowered CoQ10 levels may be explained by aging: as we hit 50, we start making less CoQ10 simply on account of advanced age. At any rate, the mitochondria in our hearts (as well as that in our brains!) could benefit from a supplement boost as our bodies continue to pursue optimal efficiency.


Mortensen, S. A., Kumar, A., Dolliner, P., et al. (2013). The effect of Coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure. Results from the Q-SYMBIO study. European Journal of Heart Failure, 15 (S1), S20.

Nordqvist, C. (2013, May 27). Food Supplement CoQ10 Cuts Death Rates Among Heart Failure Patients. Retrieved from