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What Is the Connection between Statins and Coenzyme Q10?

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  • Written By: Maggie J. Hall
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Some researchers suggest that patients take statins along with coenzyme Q10, as cholesterol lowering medications interfere with the production of vitamins. Physicians believe that the enzyme protects patients from certain cardiac conditions, including congestive heart failure. Patients taking statins and coenzyme Q10 may experience side effects. Adverse reactions to statins are generally more severe and may cause permanent organ damage the longer patients use the medication. Though not extensively studied, some researchers believe that taking statins and coenzyme Q10 supplements simultaneously may lessen the severity of statin's adverse effects.

Statins generally reduce cholesterol by inhibiting the liver from producing an enzyme known as hydroxy-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase, or HMG CoA reductase. Inhibiting this enzyme also prevents mevalonate production. Mevalonate is not only necessary for cholesterol production, it is necessary for the of manufacture coenzyme Q10. Statins lower low-density lipoproteins and some believe the medication also reduces triglycerides, minimizing plaque formation in blood vessels. Other statin effects include reduction of vascular inflammation.

The body produces coenzyme Q10 and requires it for various functions, but research indicates that levels drop with age. Statins compound this reduction. Cells contain an organelle called mitochondria, which use coenzyme Q10 to produce the cellular energy known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Coenzyme Q10 acts as an antioxidant, protecting muscles from damage by free radicals. Studies show the enzyme protects the heart from disease and supplementation improves the condition of elderly patients with angina, congestive heart failure, or other ischemic heart disease.

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Statins and coenzyme Q10 can both produce gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal discomfort, nausea, and increased gas production. Possible coenzyme Q10 side effects also include dizziness, headache, and fatigue, along with skin rashes. Statin side effects include sore and weak muscles. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may lead to muscle tissue damage, which then increases kidney stress. Prolonged use might also cause liver damage, as the medication increases liver enzyme production.

Patients should inform physicians when taking either substance, as both statins and coenzyme Q10 interact with different medications. Coenzyme Q10 reduces the effectiveness of anticoagulants and decreases insulin requirements in diabetic patients. Some antibiotic, anti-fungal, and heart medications inhibit the liver enzyme necessary for statin elimination, which increases blood levels of the drug. Other medications bind with statins in the intestine preventing adequate absorption. Combining statins with fibric acid medications, which are compounds that lower triglycerides, increases the risk of liver damage or muscle deterioration.

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