Coenzyme Q10 Improves High Blood Pressure
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an effective treatment for people with a common type of high blood pressure, according to a clinical trial published in the Southern Medical Journal (2001;94:112–7).
For this clinical trial, the authors recruited 83 people with a condition called isolated systolic hypertension (ISH), in which the higher blood pressure number (systolic) is elevated, but the lower number (diastolic) is normal. These people were assigned to take either 60 mg of CoQ10 twice daily or a placebo for 12 weeks. Each participant had their blood pressure checked twice weekly for the entire study.
The people taking CoQ10 had an 18-point (18 mm Hg) reduction in systolic blood pressure (from 165 to 147 mm Hg), compared with only a 2-point decline in the placebo group, a statistically significant difference. The diastolic blood pressure, which was initially normal, did not change in either group. A systolic blood pressure reduction of four points or more was seen in 55% of people taking CoQ10 (those people were considered responders), whereas 45% of the participants showed no clinically meaningful reduction in blood pressure. Among the responders, the average reduction in blood pressure showed a dramatic decline (25.9 mm Hg). No significant adverse effects were attributed to CoQ10 treatment.
What is Isolated Systolic Hypertension?
ISH is the most common type of high blood pressure in the United States. This type of high blood pressure is particularly common in people over age 65. People with ISH have a systolic blood pressure of greater than 140 mm Hg, and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 90 mm Hg. In a recent clinical trial, reducing systolic blood pressure in people with ISH by 20 points (a reduction that was easily achieved by the CoQ10 responders) was associated with a decreased risk of dying from stroke, heart attack, or heart failure. The survival benefits were greatest in diabetics with ISH. The new study indicates that CoQ10 may be a viable alternative to prescription medicines for reducing blood pressure in some people with ISH. Individuals with high blood pressure should consult their doctor before taking CoQ10 or changing their medication regimen.
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance that is necessary for an important step in the production of energy in the body. CoQ10 is also a potent antioxidant. The mechanism by which CoQ10 exerts such a dramatic blood pressure-lowering effect is not currently known.
At least five other clinical trials have shown a blood pressure-lowering effect of CoQ10. While most studies have shown a more modest blood pressure reduction, one other clinical trial found an effect similar to that seen in the new study. This is the first study to focus specifically on ISH.
Humans can synthesize CoQ10, but there may be situations where supplementing with extra CoQ10 may be beneficial. In particular, people with diabetes and people on certain cholesterol-lowering medications have been shown to have low blood levels of CoQ10 compared with the rest of the population.
Some, but not all, preliminary clinical trials have shown a significant difference in absorption between different preparations of CoQ10. This study used the hydrosoluble form of CoQ10, a form found in one previous clinical trial to be the most efficiently absorbed in humans.
Matt Brignall, ND is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Bastyr University. He works at the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center, where he specializes in complementary medicine approaches to cancer. He has been published in several journals, including Alternative Medicine Review, Coping With Cancer, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Brignall also teaches clinical nutrition at Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. He is a regular contributor to Healthnotes, Healthnotes Newswire, and the Healthnotes Quick!Reference series.
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