Coenzyme Q10 found to improve arterial function in statin-treated diabetics

Statins are the most commonly used cholesterol-reducing drugs. There is evidence that taking them reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, though it certainly isn’t assured that this is because they reduce cholesterol levels. For more on this see here.

While statins may indeed have benefits for health, they are not without risk. The cholesterol-producing enzyme that statins inhibit (HMG-CoA reductase) also produces the substance coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). So, statin therapy can reduce CoQ10 production, and this may manifest as symptoms such as fatigue and muscle pain.

The link between statin therapy and such symptoms is often missed by doctors, and this almost certainly has something to do with the fact that the symptoms can come on months or even years after statin treatment is started. On the plus side, CoQ10 supplementation can often reverse the adverse effects of statins. For more on this, see here and here.

The results of a recently published study suggest that CoQ10 may do more for statin-takers than just reverse symptoms such as fatigue and muscular discomfort. In a study published on-line in the journal Diabetes Care, individuals with type 2 diabetes on statin therapy were given 200 mg or placebo for 12 weeks [1].

The chief measurement used in this study was ‘flow mediated dilatation’ (FMD) in one of the main arteries in the arm (the brachial artery). This measurement essentially tests the ability of arteries to relax, which is something that is good for blood flow in the artery, and is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease risk.

Before treatment, FMD in these individuals was impaired. This is a key finding in individuals with what is known as ‘endothelial dysfunction’ ” a state where the lining of the blood vessels does not function normally. Compared to placebo, taking CoQ10 in supplement form led to a significant rise in FMD.

The study subjects were type 2 diabetics with endothelial dysfunction, and we don’t know whether similar benefits would be seen in the individuals without these health issues. However, the fact that statin therapy can deplete CoQ10 levels is justification enough, I think, for individuals on this type of medication to supplement with CoQ10.


1. Hamilton SJ, et al. Coenzyme Q10 improves endothelial dysfunction in statin-treated type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetes Care published online ahead of print February 19, 2009
DOI: 10.2337/dc08-1736

5 Responses to Coenzyme Q10 found to improve arterial function in statin-treated diabetics

  1. Trinkwasser 8 March 2009 at 7:06 pm #

    There was a suggestion that when statins were originally invented they were supposed to be prescribed along with Co-Q10. However I found this reference on a site selling Co-Q10

  2. Gerald Falvey 13 March 2009 at 6:00 am #

    I was tried on Simvastatin and had adverse side effects including muscle pains in my legs, after only 4 days. My cholesterol level was 5.4 and considered fairly low. After undergoing a replacement aortic valve my doctors tried me on a lower doseage of Simvastatiin but after two weeks the pains in my legs and joints returned and I took myself off them. I am now taking proprietory brands of margarine and health drinks to keep cholesterol low. I am a diabetic type 2 (diet controlled), have not smoked for 18yrs and am 57yrs old. I am also concerned that the research relied upon by proponents of statins is not flawless.

  3. Terry 15 March 2009 at 11:13 pm #

    I wish the NHS ‘experts’ had told me that fatigue and muscle pain are side effects of Simvastatin when they prescribed it for me several years ago. Now I know why I have been suffering fatigue and muscle pain for months and months!

    I stopped taking my 20 mg per day of Simvastatin on the Thursday I first read this article – and replaced it with liquid CoQ10. On the following Monday morning I woke up feeling totally different to how I’ve been feeling for so long now. I felt as fresh and bright as a 25 year old! This has continued since. Thank you, Dr Briffa!

  4. rob clark 1 April 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    Coming to this discussion a bit late, I’m afraid, but thanks for the posting. I’ve been on statins for 18 years and the only side effect I’ve experienced is occasional muscle ache — when that happens I take some CoQ10 for a while and it disappears.

    In light of what you’re saying here about other benefits, perhaps I should just take it all the time.

  5. michael newson 2 April 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    doctors failed to associate statin and ezetimide use
    with muscle weakness blaming it on everything but pregnancy.
    5 doctors 2 chiropractors later we read in the daily mail of the problem
    stopping both stopped me deteriating any more but has left some muscles extremely weak
    even with no meds i still tired very easily
    trying statin again i also tried q10
    i am now fitter than i was before taking the stains again
    could statins and ezeimide impair the productio of q10 permanantly

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