Heart failure is the fastest growing cause of heart disease in North America. What’s ironic is that the medication prescribed to prevent heart problems may in fact be causing weakened hearts and sapping energy from our 100 trillion cells.
Today, with an aging population, old hearts, like old cars, can only travel so many miles before they wear out. But before this happens a car without gas comes to a sudden halt. Similarly, if the heart lacks coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), the gas that delivers energy to the heart’s muscle, it eventually develops congestive heart failure.
For years doctors and the public have been told that cholesterol-lowering drugs (CLDs) are the be-all-and-end-all to prevent heart attack. But one vital point has not hit the headlines. CLDs work by inhibiting an enzyme that produces cholesterol. But this enzyme is also needed for the manufacture of coenzyme Q10. Studies show that CLDs can rob the heart’s muscle of up to 40% of CoQ10.
This is another classic example of an ‘unintended consequence’ when man starts playing God with human physiology. Remember, it’s taken evolution eons and eons to decide on how much cholesterol and C0Q10 our body needs. The moral? Small wonder that tinkering with nature means complications occur.
Early in life our bodies produce large amounts of coenzyme Q10 and reach a peak level in our 20s. But as we age, the level of coenzyme Q10 decreases in the heart, pancreas, kidneys and adrenal glands.
Dr. Karl Folker, one of the early pioneers of coenzyme Q10, says that a 25% deficiency in CoQ10 is enough to cause illness, and a decrease of 75% sufficient to cause death.
Since the heart is the work-dog of our body, beating 100,000 times daily and 2.52 billion times by age 70 without a holiday, there’s more CoQ10 in our heart than any other organ. But it’s not only the heart’s muscle that needs CoQ10.
The other 100 trillion cells also require continuous energy to carry out a myriad of metabolic tasks to keep us well. These cells also need a reliable source of CoQ10. So how many North Americans are feeling tired, have muscle cramps, muscle weakness and having emotional problems because of a lack of CoQ10?
Twenty-five per cent of the cholesterol in our body is concentrated in the brain and it’s protected from some medication by the blood brain barrier. But cholesterol-lowering drugs pass through this protective wall often with dire consequences. The best example is what happened to Dr. Duane Graveline, a U.S. astronaut, who had no recollection of his wife and children after being on a CLD for several weeks. His amnesia cleared only after stopping the CLD.
Two plus two normally makes four so it’s reasonable to assume that Dr. Graveline’s amnesia was caused by a physiological double whammy. First, the CLD decreased the amount of CoQ10 and also depleted his brain of energy. Second, the cholesterol-lowering drug also had an adverse physiological effect on the brain’s cholesterol.
Today there is a continuing desire for doctors to prescribe higher doses of CLDs in an effort to lower blood cholesterol more and more. But the greater the dosage of CLDs, the greater the loss of coenzyme Q10 to the heart’s muscle. And never forget the other 100 trillion cells that require more energy as we age.
Clinical studies show that CoQ10 supplements can increase the strength of the heart’s muscle in patients suffering from congestive heart failure. But prevention is always better than cure. This means that patients on CLDs and those who have had a heart attack should ask their doctors about the use of coenzyme Q10 supplements.
Research also shows that as we age the body’s ability to extract C0Q10 from food decreases. It’s not surprising as all our organs work less efficiently with the passage of time. This is why a supplement of coenzyme Q10 may be helpful to those who are feeling tired all the time. The usual dose of COQ10 is 100 milligrams a day and is available at Health Food Stores.
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