Coenzyme Q10 Increases Post-CPR Survival
Combining coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) supplementation with hypothermia therapy increases survival and might prevent neurological damage in people who have received CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) after a heart attack, according to Circulation (2004;110:3011–6).
CPR is a technique used to restore the heartbeat and breathing immediately after events such as a heart attack or a major trauma. Despite its lifesaving potential, about 88% of people who have been resuscitated with CPR die before they are able to leave the hospital; of those who survive, more than 90% have permanent brain or nerve damage that leaves them partially or completely disabled. The injury to nerve tissues can occur both during the time when there is no blood flow (before CPR) and during the time immediately following the restoration of blood flow (after CPR), a phenomenon known as “reperfusion injury.” Two studies have found that keeping the person in a state of mild hypothermia (subnormal body temperature) for 24 hours after resuscitation can reduce nerve damage from reperfusion injury and increase the likelihood of recovery.
CoQ10, a nutrient found throughout the body, is an antioxidant involved in producing energy in cells. It is widely known for its beneficial effects on heart health, including protecting the heart muscle from damage due to lack of oxygen. CoQ10 has recently received attention for its apparent benefit in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It is proposed that CoQ10 might similarly protect nerve tissues from damage in people who have received CPR.
Forty-nine people who had received CPR after experiencing sudden loss of heartbeat (cardiac arrest) were included in the current study. All participants arrived for treatment within six hours of their cardiac arrest and were treated with mild hypothermia therapy for the 24 hours immediately following. During hypothermia therapy, a cooling mattress was used to maintain a body temperature of 35 to 36°C (95 to 96.8°F); after 24 hours, the body was slowly warmed to a normal temperature of 37°C (98.6°F).
Participants were randomly assigned to receive either CoQ10 (250 mg upon entry to the study followed by 150 mg three times per day for 90 days) or placebo. Neurological testing was performed on each participant upon entry to the study, as well as 1,3, 5, and 90 days after entry. Significantly more of the people receiving CoQ10 (68%) than receiving placebo (29%) were still alive at the end of the study. Furthermore, more people using CoQ10 (36%) had good neurological function at the end of the study than those receiving placebo (20%).
The results of this study suggest that CoQ10 combined with mild hypothermia therapy increases survival and might reduce neurological damage in people who received CPR after a heart attack. Future studies are needed to verify these findings, and the optimal amount and timing for CoQ10 supplementation needs further investigation.
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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