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Preventing Degenerative Disease - Heart Disease/Stroke - Diseases of the Heart Muscle - Homocysteine

Dr. Strands Supplement Recomendations for those with this medical issue:
I add 300-600 mg of CoQ10 to a patient's regimen along with some additional magnesium and 100 mg grape-seed extract. Patients will usually see a response within 4 months. CoQ10 is very safe and the top researchers in the country feel comfortable pushing to 600 mg daily if the patient is not responding to the lower doses. However, some cardiologists like to perform blood level testing on the amount of CoQ10 in your blood before they begin to push to these higher levels.)Pharmaceutical Grade Supplements

Diseases of the Heart Muscle/Cardiomyopathy- Dr. Ray Strand

The heart is not a complicated organ. It is primarily a muscle whose main job is to pump blood throughout the body. In the last couple of chapters, we concentrated on the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. This chapter will now focus on the muscle of the heart itself.

Congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy are diseases of the heart muscle.

An electrical system triggers this muscle to beat in a coordinated and efficient manner. The heart's valves then open and close, allowing the blood to flow efficiently through its four chambers. As the primary muscle with the responsibility of pumping life-giving blood to every organ in the body, the heart must continue beating consistently at all times and therefore has remarkably high energy requirements.

Congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy have numerous causes: hypertension, repeated or severe heart attacks, viral infections, and infiltrative heart diseases like lupus or scleroderma, to name a few. In each case the disease weakens the strength of the heart muscle so that it is unable to handle the amount of blood it receives from the body. The heart tries to compensate for its weakened state by dilating and beating faster. But blood eventually backs up into the lungs, filling them with fluid. This is called congestive heart failure. The patient essentially begins to drown in his or her own fluid. Sometimes failure occurs primarily on the right side of the heart, which means the liver becomes congested and the patient's legs begin to swell.

When one's heart becomes severely weakened and dilated, as in Wayne's case, physicians call this cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a very severe case of congestive heart failure. An uncommonly large, dilated heart is its hallmark.

What is Coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), or ubiquinone, is a fat-soluble vitamin or vitamin like substance that is also a potent antioxidant. Trace amounts of CoQ10 exist in a variety of foods, such as organ meats, beef, soy oil, sardines, mackerel, and peanuts. The body also has the ability to make CoQ10 from the amino acid tyrosine, but this is a complicated process that requires at least eight vitamins and several trace minerals to complete. A deficiency in any one of these nutrients can hinder the body's natural production of CoQ10.

Coenzymes as a group are cofactors essential for a large number of enzymatic reactions within the body. CoQ10 is the cofactor for at least three very important enzymes used within the mitochondria of the cell. Remember, the mitochondria are essentially the battery or furnace of the cell, where the energy of the cell is produced. Mitochondrial enzymes are needed for the production of the high-energy phosphate and adenosine triphosphate, upon which all cellular function depends.

You will recall that the mitochondria are where the oxidative process occurs. Not only does energy start here, but the dangerous by-products, free radicals, are also created. As a strong antioxidant, CoQ10 is extremely important in helping neutralize free radicals; however, its most important function in this situation is to help create energy.

CoQ10, which helps fuel human mitochondria, was first isolated from a beef heart mitochondria by Dr. Frederick Crane in 1957. In 1958, Dr. Karl Folkers and coworkers at Merck, Inc. determined the exact chemical structure of CoQ10 and began synthesizing it. The Japanese then perfected the technology in the mid-l970s and are now able to produce large amounts of pure CoQ10.2

CoQ10 Deficiency and Heart Failure
Not only have numerous investigators established the normal blood levels of CoQ10; they have identified what seems to be a direct correlation between the severity of heart failure and the correlating depletion of CoQ10. Significantly decreased amounts of CoQ10 have been noted in periodontal disease, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Deficient levels of CoQ10 have been most clearly established, however, in the blood levels of patients with congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy.4

CoQ10 deficiency can be the result of several conditions: a poor diet, impairment of the body's ability to synthesize CoQ10, and/or the body's excessive utilization of CoQ10.

Investigators in the early 1980s began trials in which patients took CoQ10 supplements. Over the past twenty years, interest has continued to mount and numerous clinical studies have tested the results of CoQ10 in cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure patients. No fewer than nine placebo-controlled clinical trials have taken place around the world. Eight international symposia have been held on the biomedical and clinical aspects of CoQ10, at which physicians and scientists from eighteen different countries presented more than three hundred papers.4

The largest of these international studies was the Italian Multi-Center Trial by Baggio and Associates, which involved 2,664 patients with heart failure. In this particular study nearly 80 percent of the patients improved when they started taking CoQ10, and 54 percent of these patients had major improvements in three major symptom categories.5 Put simply, studies and real-life examples show that CoQ10 is an enormously helpful supplement in treating patients with life-threatening heart conditions. While it doesn't cure them, it certainly hinders the progress of the disease.

Treating Patients with Cardiomyopathy

Have you ever wondered what a heart transplant costs? Was your guess $250,000?

Were you aware that more than twenty thousand patients under the age of sixty-five are on the heart-transplant list? Thousands more patients over sixty five also have cardiomyopathy, but they are not even eligible to be placed on the heart-transplant list because of their age. Although they may receive maximum medical treatment, most will remain totally disabled. Only one in ten patients who are eligible for a heart transplant will actually receive one; the other nine usually end up dying from their disease fairly soon. These numbers don't include the hundreds of thousands of patients who suffer from congestive heart failure.

Drs. Folkers and Langsjoen reported a study in the medical literature in 1992 that I believe brings this dilemma to an obvious conclusion. They placed eleven exemplary transplant candidates on CoQ10. Three of the patients moved from the worst classification, Class IV, to the best classification, Class 1, under the New York Heart Association guide (see box). Four patients improved from Class III-IV to Class 11, and two others improved from Class III to Class I.

The New York Heart Association classifications for functional capacity:

Class 1: No limitations: ordinary physical activity does not cause undue fatigue, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations.

Class 11: Slight limitation of physical activity: such patients are comfortable at rest. Ordinary physical activity results in fatigue, heart palpitations' shortness of breath, or angina.

Class 111: Marked limitation of physical activity; although patients are comfortable at rest, less than ordinary activity will lead to the symptoms noted above.

Class IV: Inability to carry on any physical activity without discomfort: symptoms of congestive heart failure are present at rest. With any physical activity, increased discomfort and symptoms will occur.6

Against the backdrop of substantial clinical trials already reported in the medical literature, Folkers and Langsjoen showed undeniable proof of efficacy and safety of the use of CoQ10 in patients with end-stage heart failure who were awaiting transplantation.

Here is a prime example of a natural vitamin/antioxidant shown in several clinical trials to be effective and safe. This is nutritional medicine at its core. When the heart muscle is weakened, for whatever reason, it places an increased demand on the nutrients the heart cells need in order to create energy. Because of excessive utilization of these nutrients, the heart muscle eventually becomes depleted of CoQ10, which is the most important nutrient needed to create energy. When patients take this nutrient as a supplement, the weakened heart muscle is able to replenish its stores of CoQ10, generate more energy, and compensate for its weakened state.

Doctors should use CoQ10 in support of the traditional medical treatment, not in place of it. This is complementary medicine, not alternative medicine. Although in the studies many patients improved so much they were able to stop taking several of their medications, they were not cured of their underlying heart disease.

It is important to note that patients should continue taking supplemental CoQ10 over the long term. Clinical studies report that when patients discontinue using supplemental CoQ10, the needed fuel source becomes depleted again and heart function slowly decreases back to its previous poor level. On the other hand Dr. Langsjoen reported after a six-year follow-up study of patients that those who maintained their supplemental dosage maintained their heart function improvement.9

Why Don't Physicians Recommend CoQ10?

Here we have a life-threatening disease for which traditional medical therapy offers little hope for improvement. The cost of taking CoQ10 in supplementation is about a dollar (US) a day. Not considering the reduced costs of hospitalization, this is substantially less than the $250,000 heart transplant for which most of these patients are waiting! Furthermore, the use of CoQ10 has never shown any side effects or problems. In fact most of the studies show marked improvement within four months.10 So, why don't physicians recommend a trial of CoQ10 to their cardiomyopathy patients,

What doctors don't know may be killing you.

I have never heard a discussion of the use of CoQ10 at any medical meeting or with any cardiologist other than my interaction with Wayne's physician. And I've never heard of a cardiologist placing any of my patients with congestive heart failure or cardiomyopathy on CoQ10. After reviewing these studies I too am amazed at the unwillingness of the medical profession to offer this option to their patients. Only 1 percent of the cardiologists in the U.S. recommend CoQ10 to their patients with heart failure or cardiomyopathy." It is not as if they have a good alternative therapy in mind. The National Institute of Health has funded most of the studies involving CoQ10 in the United States. But unlike the plethora of synthetic drugs, CoQ10 is a natural product, and as such cannot be patented through the FDA.'7 Pharmaceutical companies are not going to spend the $350 million needed to get a natural product like CoQ10 approved by the FDA if there is no economic incentive.~3 It is also very costly for a company to promote the use of its medication to physicians. It is just not going to happen.

I'll tell you why physicians don't recommend CoQ10. Physicians are pharmaceutically trained. We know drugs, but we don't know much about natural products. As much as we hate to admit it, the pharmaceutical sales representatives who come to our off'ices daily control much of what we learn in regard to new treatments. And I have yet to see a pharmaceutical sales rep show me a study on CoQ10 and its effects on cardiomyopathy. There simply is no money in it.

"What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You."
Dr. Ray Strand