The Polypharmacy Network

Polypharmacy Prevention
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What You Should Know About Coenzyme Q-10?
By: Joanne Jansen PharmD and Anjanette Dymerski PharmD
Many people consider herbal supplements safe since they are natural. However, even natural things can be bad for you; for example, a bite from a black widow spider is natural and not good. Always discuss any new supplements with your doctor or pharmacist before taking them to make sure they do not interact with your medications or cause worsening of a disease you have.

It is important to remember that natural supplements and vitamins are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that there may be ingredients in the products that are not listed. There is also no guarantee that the ingredients listed on the bottle are accurate.

Coenzyme Q-10 (or Co Q10) is often used for congestive heart failure, for coenzyme Q-10 deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, and to improve immune function in patients with HIV/AIDS. It is probably effective for coenzyme Q-10 deficiency and seems to be effective in lowering blood pressure, preventing migraines (but if migraines do develop, Co Q10 does not lessen the severity or length of time), increasing immune function of HIV/AIDS patients, and in patients with early Parkinson’s disease. It may help with symptoms of heart failure when taken with other drugs for heart failure but not taken alone. It does not seem to help in Huntington’s disease or in patients with mid- to late-stage Parkinson’s disease.

Although some people do get some benefit from Co Q10, it may interact with warfarin (Coumadin®) so this combination should be avoided.

Co Q10 can cause problems in people with low blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure or are taking medications to lower your blood pressure, discuss with your doctor or pharmacist whether you should take Co Q10. Taking it with medicines to lower blood pressure can cause your blood pressure to be too low.

Other things you should know about Co Q10:
• Tell your doctor you are taking this drug before you have surgery. You may need to stop it two weeks before surgery to prevent blood pressure problems.
• Tell your doctor or pharmacist you are taking this drug before you start any new medications.
• Co Q10 is generally well tolerated when used in low doses. Side effects that may occur include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn and allergic rash.

More information available at the Natural Products Database of The Pharmacist’s Letter.