Can Coenzyme Q10 raise my mother's ejection fraction?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mom recently read an article about Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and heart failure, and now she's all fired up about taking it. Is there any reason she shouldn't try it? Can it help raise her ejection fraction (EF) -- the fraction of blood pumped out of a ventricle with each heartbeat?

Expert Answer

Barry M. Massie is chief of cardiology at the San Francisco V.A. Medical Center.

There have been quite a few studies of CoQ10 and heart failure, but none of the best-designed ones have shown any benefit from this expensive treatment. Unlike CoQ10, many of the medicines prescribed for heart failure have shown clear benefits in prolonging survival, preventing hospitalization, and relieving symptoms.

We wouldn't recommend CoQ10, but if your mother decides to try it, she shouldn't stop taking her other medications. And if she's taking Coumadin (also known as warfarin), she should talk to her doctor because CoQ10 can interfere with that drug's effects.

You might want to remind your mother that the real goals of treating heart failure are to improve symptoms and prolong life. Although doctors prefer patients to have higher EFs, that's not actually a goal of treatment.