UM study finds no benefit in a popular heart supplement

November 09, 1999

A popular nutritional supplement taken by many patients with congestive heart failure has no effect on improving heart function or relieving symptoms, a University of Maryland Medical Center study shows. The results will be presented at the 72nd Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association on November 10 in Atlanta, Georgia. The supplement, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is taken by many heart failure patients and can cost up to $47 a bottle.

"We found no clear benefit to patients who used coenzyme Q10," says Stephen Gottlieb, M.D, director of the cardiac care unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "There was absolutely no change in how much blood the heart could pump or how much the patients could exercise after taking coenzyme Q10."

Coenzyme Q10 is an over-the-counter nutritional supplement that is touted as a treatment for congestive heart failure. Dr. Gottlieb said he became curious about the supplement's effectiveness after many of his patients began taking them.

For the study, 46 patients who were moderately to severely ill with heart failure were given either CoQ10 or a placebo for six months, along with their standard heart medicine. The study was double blinded so neither the patients nor the researchers knew what treatment was given until the study ended. The researchers found that there was no difference in heart function between the two groups and the supplements had no effect in relieving symptoms.

Congestive heart failure is the inability of the heart to pump enough blood to the lungs and the rest of the body. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, fatigue or shortness of breath even at rest. It also can cause a build-up of blood behind the heart leading to swelling in the legs, feet, ankles and liver.

Dr. Gottlieb says chronic illnesses often motivate people to try different therapies that may be expensive and unproven. "However, based on our findings, people should be aware the CoQ10 has no detectable benefit to heart failure patients," says Meenakshi Khatta, M.S., C.R.N.P., a nurse practitioner with the Heart Failure Program at the University of Maryland Medical Center who will present the results of the CoQ10 study at the AHA meeting.
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University of Maryland Medical Center

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