Warning to all women: Take care of your cardiovascular health and avoid premature death
More women than men die of cardiovascular disease. Diet and lifestyle play a crucial role in prevention, and there are certain supplements which have been shown to reduce heart-related deaths by over 50%.
The number one heart disease and leading cause of death in Western countries is coronary occlusion, also known as ischemic heart disease. Ischemia translates into "oxygen shortage" and when the heart lacks oxygen due to poor circulation, chest pain (angina pectoris) may occur in connection with physical exertion, cardiac thrombosis, heart failure and sudden death. Because atherosclerosis takes many years to develop it is vital to start early prevention with natural strategies, even before any symptoms are observed.
If you take cholesterol-lowering medicine or if you are a heart failure patient you should definitely continue reading.
Supplements of selenium and Q10 reduce mortality by 54%
People who take supplements of selenium and coenzyme Q10 may lower their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 54%. This was seen in a Swedish study called KiSel-10. Urban Alehagen, the Swedish cardiologist who headed the study, and is affiliated with the University of Linköping in Sweden chose to combine selenium with coenzyme Q10, as both substances are known to counteract atherosclerosis and also strengthen the heart. In addition, it is a known fact that the body's endogenous production of coenzyme Q10 decreases with age. What is more, the agricultural soil in large parts of Europe contains very little selenium.
How selenium and Q10 affect the blood flow and cholesterol
Selenium is an element of several powerful antioxidant systems and contributes to optimal functioning of Q10. Q10 is a coenzyme that is needed in all cells for normal energy metabolism. The substance is particular important for the heart. Q10 is also a powerful antioxidant. In collaboration with selenium, Q10 prevents the oxidation of cholesterol. It is this oxidation process that is regarded as the underlying cause of atherosclerosis.
The KiSel-10 study - how healthy people stay healthy
443 men and women in the age group 70-88 years took part in the KiSel-10 study. The participants were randomly split in two groups. One group was given daily supplements of Q10 (200 mg) and organic selenium yeast (200 micrograms), the other group got placebo (dummy pills). The study lasted for a period of five years.
It turned out that the group that got the active supplements had a more than 50% lower risk of dying, compared with the placebo group. Also, those in the treatment group had significantly stronger heart muscles. Blood samples revealed lower levels of a hormone called NT-proBNP, which the heart muscle produces when it is strained. Also, the scientists could see with ultrasonography (ultrasound imaging) that the hearts worked with far less effort.
What the KiSel-10 study concluded
Long-term supplementation with organic selenium yeast and coenzyme Q10 lowers cardiovascular mortality has a positive influence on the functioning of the heart muscle.
Q10 protects against hypertension
A so-called meta-analysis (that is an analysis of numerous studies) has demonstrated that coenzyme Q10 supplemented reduced systolic blood pressure by 11-17 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure by 8-10 mm Hg. Because many people suffer from hypertension without knowing it, it is normally recommended to measure your blood pressure regularly, as persistent hypertension may have serious consequences. Although coenzyme Q10 has demonstrated anti-hypertensive potential, one should never replace existing prescription drugs against hypertension without consulting a physician in advance.
What is hypertension?
There are two blood pressure measurements - the systolic (upper) and diastolic (lower) blood pressure. They reflect when the heart muscle pumps out blood and gets filled again. Blood pressure readings at rest for healthy adults should normally lie around 120/80 mm HG. If the systolic blood pressure is higher than 140 mm Hg it is elevated. It is normally a good idea to make several consecutive blood pressure readings in order to get an accurate picture.
Q10 offers hope to heart failure patients
The groundbreaking five-year Q-Symbio study of 420 heart failure patients from Asia, Australia, and Europe demonstrated the following:
- Heart failure patients who were given 300 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily had 43% fewer heart-related deaths compared with patients who got placebo. The Q10 supplements were given as add-on therapy to their standard heart failure medication
- There was a notable reduction of heart-related complications and hospitalizations among those who got supplements of coenzyme Q10
Q10 reduces the side effects of cholesterol-lowering medicine
Cholesterol is an essential substance. Humans produce most of our cholesterol in the liver. Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) work by inhibiting an enzyme called HMG-CoA, which also happens to be part of the biochemical pathway that is involved in the synthesis of Q10. Consequently, some of the most common statin-induced side effects include muscle pain, fatigue, breathing difficulty, and a general feeling of being "old" - physically and mentally. The cells of the body simply lack Q10 for their energy turnover.
Because statins inhibit the body's production of Q10, this may also reduce Q10's effect as an important antioxidant that is particularly vital to the heart and cardiovascular system. Therefore, it is advised to take supplements of Q10 (at least 100 mg/day) to prevent these side effects.
It may also be relevant to take a closer look at the underlying cause of the elevated cholesterol levels, where factors like inflammation, metabolic syndrome, and type-2 diabetes are involved and where diet, lifestyle, and waist circumference play an important role.
Important: When you buy Q10, stick with a brand which can document that it gets absorbed in the body
The following may help prevent cardiovascular disease
It is a known fact that lifestyle, waist circumference, and lifestyle diseases like diabetes greatly influence our blood flow. Therefore it is generally advisable to pay special attention to the following:
Eat coarse foods and green vegetables. Maintain stable blood sugar levels. Eat healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, nuts, kernels, seeds, and oily fish. Cut down on your salt intake - especially if you have high blood pressure.
Get sufficient vitamin D - all year round
Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D. According to a study that is published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, individuals with low vitamin D levels in their blood are twice as likely to suffer coronary thrombosis or stroke, compared to those with high levels. Many of us do not get enough vitamin D during the winter season. Therefore, a strong vitamin D supplement may be advisable.
Weight, waist circumference, and revealing measuring tapes
Overweight or, more accurately, too large waist circumference increases the risk of atherosclerosis and lifestyle diseases. The reason is that visceral fat around our intestines release harmful compounds. Women with a waist circumference of more than 80 cm have an increased risk of atherosclerosis and lifestyle diseases. If a woman's waist circumference is over 88 cm, her risk is increased substantially. The best thing one can do is to make an effort to keep ones waist circumference within the healthy boundaries by eating sensibly and exercising on a regular basis.
Did you know that many people are TOFIs (thin-outside-fat-inside) and very unhealthy?
TOFIs have normal or even low body weight, but they have too much fat in relation to their muscle mass. It is the abdominal fat in particular that is harmful for a person's health and cardiovascular system.
Diabetes and its early stages are spreading to epidemic proportions
A large number of Europeans have early stages of type-2 diabetes (also known as metabolic syndrome), and many people are already diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. Both conditions increase the risk of atherosclerosis and blood clots. In such cases it is important to control blood sugar levels. Here, consuming protein-rich main meals and the trace element chromium is of great importance. Supplements of organic chromium yeast are absorbed up to 10 times better than supplements with chromium picolinate or chromium chloride.
Stress affects more women than men
Studies show that there are more women than men who feel stressed. Persistent stress causes us to produce greater amounts of the adrenal hormone, cortisol. This may increase the amount of abdominal fat, thereby increasing our risk of atherosclerosis and blood clots. When we are stressed we also generate large quantities of free radicals that are harmful to our cardiovascular system, as they attack and oxidize cholesterol. It is generally a good idea to slow down and make sure to get enough antioxidants from the diet and possibly from supplements of Q10 and selenium.
Tobacco smoke contains large amounts of free radicals and other harmful substances. Therefore, smokers and passive smokers have an increased need for antioxidants. Selenium has been shown to bind to cadmium and other heavy metals. Tobacco smoke therefore increases your need for selenium in particular. Many smokers suffer from cold feet or headaches that may be a sign of impaired blood flow.
Alehagen U et al. Cardiovascular mortality and N-Terminal-proBNP reduced after combined selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplementation. International Journal of Cardiology. 2012
Wang TJ et al. Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk of cardiovascular Disease. Circulation 2008
Rosenfelt et al., Coenzyme Q10 in the treatment of hypertension: a meta-analysis of the clinical trials. J. Human Hypertension 21, 2007
Deichmann RE et al: Impact of coenzyme Q-10 on parameters of cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle performance in older athletes taking statins. Phys Sportsmed. 2012
Mortensen SA et al. The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-Symbio - a randomised double-blind trial. JACC 2014