Herbs and Supplements for Heart Disease

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Submitted by Dr T on June 22, 2014 – 2:55pm

Whenever considering taking herbs or supplements, we are always told to discuss it with our healthcare professional. I’ve never met a doctor who accepted other treatment in conjunction with theirs. 1 yr ago I had a heart attack. My ejection fraction then & now is 39. I’m alive, but always feel miserable. My cardiologist says relax. He’s unapproachable about supplements. I’m considering taking CoQ-10 and curcumin, both of which could have some interactions with meds I’m currently taking. How do I get a valid informed opinion on making medication adjustments when combining with herbs and supplements? Thanks for your time.
Hi Ed,
Statins may reduce Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10, CQ10), an anti-oxidant that is available in the United States as an (expensive) dietary supplement. Although there are many claims about its supposed benefits in cancer and heart failure, there is no evidence that use of CoQ10 will be helpful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way it regulates medicines. A dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no research on how well it works or on its safety. Your reported heart function (Ejection Fraction= 39%) is not diminshed enough to cause symptoms of heart failure, but warrant treatment with medications such as an ACE inhibitor.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is similar to a vitamin. It also functions as an antioxidant, and has been used (w/o) success) in the treatment of heart failure. The use of statins may reduce the CoQ10 in your blood and some recommend CoQ10 as adjunct therapy to statins, reasoning a questionable benefit against very small risk.
You can buy CoQ10 in health stores and don’t need a prescription. Since its actions are doubtful, I cannot advice you whether to take it or how much, or what the supposed benefits of curcumin are.
I am a physician and a surgeon, and don’t treat patients with herbs. Most of all, it is a mistake to self-medicate on top of other medications your doctor has prescribed. A heart healthy lifestyle is far more effective (and a lot cheaper)  than those herbs and supplements.
Hope this helps,

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