Dr Dale Peterson, coenzyme Q10, congestive heart failure

Coenzyme Q-10: Too Often Overlooked

Coenzyme Q-10: Too Often Overlooked

© 2001 Dr Dale Peterson; © 2006 Wellness Clubs of America.com

Eva sat in a wheelchair, her formerly slender legs the size of oak fence posts. Fluid oozed through the skin soaking her gown. The sharp wit and strong will I would come to recognize as key elements of her personality were absent that first evening. She scarcely acknowledged my examining presence.

I had been asked to assume Eva’s care when her family brought her from Louisiana to spend her last days in their home. She had been on hospice for approximately three months, admission to which requires the presence of a terminal condition expected to result in death within six months. Her condition suggested that she was unlikely to survive longer than a few days or weeks.

Eva was suffering from a lazy heart, a condition referred to as congestive heart failure. End-stage congestive heart failure has a grave prognosis. Standard medical treatment is able to slow the progression of the disease at times, but offers no hope for reversal or long-term survival.

When I had completed my assessment I asked her family if they would be willing to consider nutritional intervention along with some small adjustments in her medical regimen. After some discussion of the need to balance her reluctance to take pills with the potential benefit of improving the quality of her last days they agreed. Eva’s medications were adjusted and she was placed on Coenzyme Q-10, a supplement largely ignored or unrecognized by the mainstream medical community.

Her condition began to improve; she left her wheelchair and began taking walks around the property. Hospice informed the family and me that she no longer qualified for the program. She spent the next two winters walking the beaches of Hawaii with friends. She never returned to the wheelchair. She remained alert and active until she passed on peacefully in her sleep one night.

Eva’s story is the most dramatic I have witnessed, but it is not unique in the annals of Co Q-10 supplementation. Discovered in 1957, Coenzyme Q-10, also known as ubiquinone, is found throughout the body. It is present in higher amounts in organs and tissues that consume large amounts of energy. The heart contains the highest concentration of Co Q-10 in the body.

Studies have shown that a significant Co Q-10 deficiency exists in up to 75 % of individuals with heart disease. As with Eva, correction of this deficiency can result in significant improvement in these conditions.

Improvement is seen in quality as well as quantity of life. For purposes of assessing disability, monitoring effectiveness of therapy, and establishing a prognosis, individuals with heart failure are divided into four classes: those with no limitation of physical activity, those with slight limitation, those with marked limitation, and those who are unable to perform any physical activity without discomfort.

In one study involving 424 patients, 58 percent improved by one functional class, 28 percent by two classes, and 1 to 2 percent by three activity classes! Nearly 90 percent of them experienced a significant improvement in their quality of life by taking Co Q-10. Not only were they able to significantly increase their physical activity, 43 percent were able to stop taking between 1 and 3 prescription drugs!

In contrast to a 50 percent annual death rate with conventional therapy alone, 84 percent of individuals given Co Q-10 in one trial were still alive after two years.

Coenzyme Q-10 levels are typically low in a number of other conditions. These include cancer, muscular dystrophy, and gum disease. When Co Q-10 supplementation was given to a group of people with painful bleeding gums and loose teeth greater improvement was seen in three weeks than is typically seen over six months of more aggressive dental treatment.

Inexplicably, the significance of Co Q-10 deficiency continues to be ignored or denied by many physicians. A recent report that gum and heart disease are commonly found in combination failed to recognize the fact that CoEnzyme Q-10 deficiency is an underlying cause of both conditions.

Cholesterol lowering agents referred to as statins are being prescribed to individuals with minimal risk of developing coronary artery disease.  These agents block the activity of another chemical, coenzyme A.  This interferes not only with the synthesis of cholesterol in the body but the production of Coenzyme Q-10 as well. Most physicians are unaware that a major medical study showed a significant increase in the incidence of breast cancer in women taking pravastatin, a commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug.

I do not routinely supplement Co Q-10, but I do believe that those who are experiencing heart disease, gum disease, neuromuscular disorders, and breast or pancreatic cancer should be made aware of the potential benefits of taking this totally safe and highly efficacious substance.

I also feel strongly that women should be advised of the questions surrounding the long-term use of certain cholesterol lowering drugs. The risk of atherosclerosis can be addressed in much more effective ways while avoiding the possibility of an increased risk of breast cancer.

Life is short and often challenging. As Eva’s story suggests, it need not be made shorter and more challenging because of an easily reversible nutritional deficit.

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