Heart failure may develop over years before it becomes symptomatic. It also increases the risk of heart attack and death, contributing to one in eight deaths in 2017
Heart failure (HF) occurs when the heart’s pumping is not able to keep up with the body’s demands and may decompensate.
There are two types — systolic and diastolic. The basic difference is that the ejection fraction, the output of blood with each contraction of the left ventricle of the heart, is more or less preserved in diastolic HF, while it can be significantly reduced in systolic HF.
Fortunately, both types can be diagnosed with the help of an echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart. The signs and symptoms may be similar, as well, and include shortness of breath on exertion or when lying down, edema or swelling, reduced exercise tolerance, weakness and fatigue.
Major risk factors include diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, poor diet, being sedentary and drinking alcohol excessively.
Typically, heart failure is treated with blood pressure medications. We are going to look at how diet, iron and the supplement CoQ10 impact heart failure.
Effect of diet
In a population-based, prospective study involving 33,713 women, the Swedish Mammography Cohort, results show that a diet rich in antioxidants reduces the risk of developing HF.
In the group that consumed the most nutrient-dense foods, there was a significant 42 percent reduction in the development of HF, compared to the group that consumed the least.
According to the authors, the antioxidants were derived mainly from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, coffee and chocolate. Fruits and vegetables were responsible for the majority of the effect.
This nutrient-dense approach to diet increased oxygen radical absorption capacity. Oxygen radicals have been implicated in cellular damage and DNA damage, potentially as a result of increasing chronic inflammation.
This study is the first of its kind to investigate the impacts of dietary antioxidants on heart failure prevention.
Although the population involved only women, the results are very exciting, and it is unlikely there is a downside to applying this approach to the population at large.
Coenzyme Q10 is a substance produced by the body that helps the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) produce energy. It is thought of as an antioxidant.
Results of the Q-SYMBIO study, a randomized controlled trial that followed 420 patients with severe heart failure for two years, showed an almost 50 percent reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality and 50 percent fewer cardiac events with CoQ10 supplementation.
This study compared using 100 mg of CoQ10 three times a day compared to placebo.
The lead author goes as far as to suggest that CoQ10 should be part of the paradigm of treatment. This the first new “drug” in over a decade to show survival benefits in heart failure.
A meta-analysis involving 13 studies of CoQ10 supplementation with HF confirmed that CoQ10 resulted in ejection fraction improvements among patients with less severe stages of HF.
An observational study that followed 753 heart failure patients for almost two years showed that iron deficiency without anemia increased the risk of mortality in heart failure patients by 42 percent.
The authors conclude that iron deficiency is potentially more predictive of clinical outcomes than anemia, contributes to the severity of HF and is common in these patients.
Thus, it behooves us to try to prevent heart failure through dietary changes, including high levels of antioxidants, because it is not easy to reverse the disease.
Those with HF should have their ferritin and iron levels checked, for these are correctable. CoQ10 also appears to be a compelling therapy. Consult with your doctor before taking CoQ10 or any other supplements, especially if you have heart failure.