Supplements of a popular energy-booster could halve death rates among people with heart failure, claim scientists.
The vitamin-like supplement coenzyme Q10 also reduces hospital admissions, says a major new study.
It is the first drug shown to save the lives of heart failure patients in more than a decade – and it is available over the counter in health food shops.
CoQ10 – which can be taken with statins – should now be added to conventional treatment for such patients, according to Professor Svend Aage Mortensen, who led the study.
Professor Mortensen said: ‘CoQ10 is the first medication to improve survival in chronic heart failure since ACE inhibitors and beta blockers more than a decade ago and should be added to standard heart failure therapy.
‘Other heart failure medications block rather than enhance cellular processes and may have side effects.
‘Supplementation with CoQ10, which is a natural and safe substance, corrects a deficiency in the body and blocks the vicious metabolic cycle in chronic heart failure.’
More than 900,000 Britons live with heart failure, which occurs when damage to the heart leaves it too weak to pump blood efficiently round the body. Around 100,000 a year are thought to die from it.
Heart failure causes symptoms of fatigue, breathlessness, increased heart rate and swollen ankles, and it can lead to serious complications.
CoQ10 is a substance similar to a vitamin which is made by the body and found in every cell, where it is used to produce energy.