Pycnogenol, CoQ10 Combo Helps Heart Failure Patients
People who have heart failure may benefit from a combination of Pycnogenol® (pine bark) and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) along with their standard medical treatment. Individuals in a recent study experienced improvement in exercise capacity as well as other factors after taking Pycnogenol and CoQ10.
Heart function may benefit from natural therapies
Pycnogenol, a brand name for the extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, has been shown in numerous studies to benefit the heart, including improvements in endothelial function and blood flow. A recent study in Hypertension, for example, reported that Pycnogenol’s antioxidative properties may reduce oxidative stress, which plays a key role in endothelial dysfunction.
In the Pycnogenol/CoQ10 study, which was conducted at Chieti-Pescara University in Italy, researchers evaluated the effect of Pycnogenol and CoQ10 along with medical treatment, compared with placebo, in 53 patients (ages 54 to 68 years) with stable New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II or III heart failure. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood throughout the body.
At entry into the 12-week, single-blinded, placebo-controlled observational study, all the patients were taking medications, with more than 75 percent using three or more drugs for heart failure. All had an ejection fraction less than 40 percent of original capacity, determined by high-resolution ultrasound.
The patients were divided into two groups: one received the combination capsules (15 mg Pycnogenol, 50 mg CoQ10) and the other received placebo capsules. Factors evaluated included exercise capacity (measured by walking on a treadmill), ejection fraction, and swelling in the legs.
Overall, heart ejection fraction increased by 22.4 percent in the treatment group and by 4 percent in controls. Treated patients demonstrated a 3.3-fold increase in walking distance, while the controls had only a marginal improvement. Swelling of the legs decreased significantly in the treated patients but only slightly in controls. Nine of the 32 patients who took the combo capsules and 3 of the 21 who took placebo improved NYHA class.
Signs and symptoms of heart failure (also known as congestive heart failure) include swelling (edema) in the legs, fatigue, breathlessness, and rapid heart beat (tachycardia). The NYHA classification for heart failure is based on the relationship between symptoms and the amount of effort necessary to provoke them.
This study indicates that Pycnogenol and CoQ10 may provide significant benefits for people who have stable heart failure when taken along with standard medical therapy. Pycnogenol and CoQ10 improves heart function, as well as lowers blood pressure and heart rate, benefits that could help many of the estimated 5 million Americans who have heart failure.
Belcaro G et al. Panminerva Medica 2010 June; 52( 2 Suppl 1): 21-25
Rezzani R et al. Hypertension 2010 Jun; 55(6): 1373-80