Benefits of CoQ10 for Heart Disease

A recent study evaluating the effects of using CoQ10 for dogs with heart disease revealed information regarding dosing. Clinical benefits for humans with heart failure have been shown in numerous studies, but this was the first study undertaken to evaluate dogs naturally suffering with mitral valve disease (rather than experimentally induced MVD). MVD is the most common heart disease found in small breed dogs.

Veterinary cardiologists from Thailand evaluated the use of CoQ10 in thirteen dogs in Stage C congestive heart failure over a period of four weeks. The dose used was 100 mg twice daily for two groups: small dogs less than 6 kg , which is 13.2 pounds (Group I) and large dogs over 6 kg (Group II). All dogs were prescribed a combination of enalapril (0.25 - 0.5 mg/kg) twice a day and furosemide (1 - 4 mg/kg/day) for at least 2 months duration. No other cardiovascular drugs or antioxidant substrates were prescribed prior to the study.

CoQ10 was evaluated for its ability to prevent myocardial (heart muscle) injury and improve cardiac function. Cardiac troponin I (cTnI), which is a protein found in elevated levels when the heart muscle is damaged, was measured, along with echocardiographic examination and Holter monitor readings on Day 0 and Day 28 of the study.

Findings showed CoQ10 caused a reduction of cTnI level in 71% of the dogs. Systolic function increased significantly by 8 to 9% in the smaller dogs in group I after CoQ10 supplementation. CoQ10 improved cardiac function in small dogs with MVD. The increased systolic function can be explained by the fact that CoQ10 is a factor required during energy production in muscle cells. Thus, CoQ10 supplementation may improve energy availability for cardiac muscle contraction. CoQ10 may protect heart muscle cells from injury through its antioxidant action. Thirdly, CoQ10 was found to decrease vascular resistance, therefore allowing blood flow from the heart to move forward more easily.

The improved systolic function was not observed in group II dogs (B.W. ≥ 6 kg). Since the recommended dose of CoQ10 was given per dog, not per body weight, the dose given to group II dogs may not have been enough to see the effect. It is recommended that supplementation of CoQ10 in dogs should be calculated from the body weight of the dog. More studies need to be performed to determine the exact dosing required for cardio-protective effects.
I'm often asked which is the best form to use when giving this supplement. Ubiquinol may yield a bit more active compound in the body. You may be able to give a little less ubiquinol than CoQ10 to get the same result. When CoQ10 that has been oxidized (ubiquinone) is used by the body, it transforms and becomes ubiquinol. In the same way, ubiquinol becomes ubiquinone when it carries out its role in the body. They are pretty interchangeable, but ubiquinol may be more easily absorbed by the body.

No medications or food supplements are known to prevent the onset of MVD. However, some supplements may defer the time of onset (although there is no scientific proof that they do so), including:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oils) at 30 mg per pound of body weight per day
  • Vitamin C at 25 to 30 mg per pound of body weight per day
  • Vitamin E 100 IU per day
  • CoQ10 (Ubiquinol) 100 mg twice daily for dogs under 13 pounds. (My general feeling would be a recommendation of 8 to 10 mg per pound of body weight twice daily for larger breeds prone to heart disease.) Gel caps seem to provide better absorption than powdered capsule supplements.
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