Pomegranate: a heart-healthy fruit

Consuming pomegranate juice regularly improves heart health(NaturalNews) Pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, tannins, and anthocyanins. The health benefits of pomegranate juice have been compared to that of red wine, purple grape juice, and black tea. The only potential downside of fresh pomegranate juice is that it is very high in natural sugar.

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Two Vitamin C Tablets Every Day Could Save 200,000 American Lives Every Year

Ascorbate Supplementation Reduces Heart Failure

New research has reported that risk of heart failure decreases with increasing blood levels of vitamin C [1]. Persons with the lowest plasma levels of ascorbate had the highest risk of heart failure, and persons with the highest levels of vitamin C had the lowest risk of heart failure.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there are about 600,000 deaths from heart disease each year. [2] This is an enormous number. The definition of heart failure used by the study authors was on the basis of drugs prescribed, which would include all forms of heart disease that cause death. This agrees well with the CDC definition.

Specifically, the study found that each 20 micromole/liter (μmol/L) increase in plasma vitamin C was associated with a 9% reduction in death from heart failure. That works out to 54,000 fewer deaths from heart failure for each increase in 20 μmol/L plasma vitamin C. If everyone took high enough doses of vitamin C to reach the highest quartile (80 μmol/L), that would work out to approximately 216,000 fewer deaths per year. Just from taking vitamin C.

What is Heart Failure?

The heart muscle fails for many reasons. As we get older, it weakens and may not get enough nutrients to keep it healthy. A severe heart attack, that does not kill the patient but has caused significant damage to the heart muscle, may leave the heart in a very weakened state. Long standing or acute high blood pressure can put a massive strain on the heart and cause it to fail. An abnormal beating of the heart such as a very fast heart rate, an irregular beat or a lot of missed beats will result in a less effective pumping and eventual failure. Anemia will make the heart pump harder and faster in an attempt to deliver enough oxygen to the organs. The valves in the heart which direct blood flow are made up of an important fibrous strengthening tissue called collagen. Weakness or tearing of these valves can cause the blood to flow backwards, making the heart pump very inefficiently and eventually causing it to fail. When the heart muscle begins to fail, there is a buildup of carbon dioxide and waste products, resulting in weakening of the kidneys and liver. Eventually, fluid builds up in all the organs and the person presents with severe fatigue, shortness of breath (from fluid in the lungs) and swelling of the ankles.

Viruses and other microorganisms can attack the heart and weaken the heart muscle cells permanently by causing viral myocarditis. As the heart muscle cells get older they may require more energy to work and a greater level of protection from free radical damage. Nutrients such as magnesium, orotic acid, coenzyme Q10, acetyl L-Carnitine, and others may be required. Toxins, chemotherapeutic drugs, alcohol and deficiencies of some nutrients such as selenium may cause the heart to increase the size of its cells to compensate for the weakness. An enlargement of the heart muscle is called cardiomyopathy. These hearts are much more likely to fail.

Medical treatment of cardiac failure uses drugs that open the arteries, reduce blood pressure, and force the excessive fluid out of the body (diuretics). Drugs known as ACE Inhibitors improve quality of life and survival. Diet, fluid and salt restriction, and tolerable exercise are essential. For the most severe cases, a heart transplant may be required. However, many of these treatments have significant side effects. For example, treatment with diuretics to remove excess fluid will tend to lower the plasma vitamin C level and exacerbate the causes of cardiac failure.

How Much Vitamin C is Needed?

It takes less vitamin C than you may have thought. To achieve a plasma level of 80 μmol/L, and thereby reduce deaths by 216,000 per year, requires a daily dosage of about 500 mg of vitamin C. This is only one or two tablets per day, costing less than ten cents.

3,000 to 8,000 mg/day, in continued divided doses, can achieve a plasma level twice as high (160 μmol/L). This much C could save an additional 216,000 lives as it is an additional 80 μmol/L, assuming the relationship holds.

We can go still higher, and without intravenous administration. 1,000 mg of oral vitamin C per hour for 12 hours (12,000 mg/day) will result in a plasma level of about 240 μmol/L. A single 5,000 milligram dose might take you to a peak of 240 μmol/L, but only for about 2-4 hours after the intake. That is why the dosage needs to be spread out: better absorption, gradual excretion, higher plasma levels . . . and better results.


Optimizing vitamin C intake optimizes the health of a person taking it. This includes persons with potentially life-threatening disorders. It is a simple, cheap, effective, and safe therapy. Vitamin C is no longer a “controversial” therapy. It is an ignored therapy. It is time for the medical profession to fully awaken to what this recent study confirms: higher vitamin C intakes mean less heart failure. That means that higher vitamin C intakes mean fewer deaths. 200,000 per year fewer.

With just two vitamin C tablets per day.

(Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, November 22, 2011)


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Low Vitamin C Levels May Raise Heart Failure Patients’ Risk



1. Pfister R, Sharp SJ, Luben R, Wareham NJ, Khaw KT. Plasma vitamin C predicts incident heart failure in men and women in European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk prospective study. Am Heart J 2011; 162: 246-253.

2. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm


Low Vitamin C Levels May Raise Heart Failure Patients’ Risk

Low levels of vitamin C were associated with higher levels of high sensitivity C-Reactive protein (hsCRP) and shorter intervals without major cardiac issues or death for heart failure patients, in research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2011.

Compared to those with high vitamin C intake from food, heart failure patients in the study who had low vitamin C intake were 2.4 times more likely to have higher levels of hsCRP, a marker for inflammation and a risk factor for heart disease.

The study is the first to demonstrate that low vitamin C intake is associated with worse outcomes for heart failure patients.

Study participants with low vitamin C intake and hsCRP over 3 milligrams per liter (mg/L) were also nearly twice as likely to die from cardiovascular disease within one year of follow-up.

“We found that adequate intake of vitamin C was associated with longer survival in patients with heart failure,” said Eun Kyeung Song, Ph.D., R.N., lead author of the study and assistant professor at the Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, in the University of Ulsan in Korea.

The average age among the 212 patients in the study was 61, and about one-third were women. Approximately 45 percent of the participants had moderate to severe heart failure.

Participants completed a four-day food diary verified by a registered dietitian and a software program calculated their vitamin C intake. Bloods tests measured hsCRP.

Researchers divided participants into one group with levels over 3 mg/L of hsCRP and another with lower levels. Patients were followed for one year to determine the length of time to their first visit to the emergency department due to cardiac problems or death.

Researchers found that 82 patients (39 percent) had inadequate vitamin C intake, according to criteria set by the Institute of Medicine. These criteria allowed the researchers to estimate the likelihood that the patient’s diet was habitually deficient in vitamin C based on a four day food diary. After a year follow-up, 61 patients (29 percent) had cardiac events, which included an emergency department visit or hospitalization due to cardiac problems, or cardiac death.

The researchers found that 98 patients (46 percent) had hsCRP over 3 mg/L, according to Song.

Inflammatory pathways in heart failure patients may be why vitamin C deficiency contributed to poor health outcomes, the data suggests.

“Increased levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein means a worsening of heart failure,” Song said. “An adequate level of vitamin C is associated with lower levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. This results in a longer cardiac event-free survival in patients.”

The use of diuretics may also play a role because vitamin C is water soluble and diuretics increase the amount of water excreted from the kidneys, said Terry Lennie, Ph.D., R.N., study author and associate dean of Ph.D. studies in the College of Nursing at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.

“Diet is the best source of vitamin C,” Lennie said. “Eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day provides an adequate amount.”

More randomized controlled trials and longitudinal prospective studies are needed to determine the impact of other micronutrients on survival or rehospitalization, Song said.


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Two Vitamin C Tablets Every Day Could Save 200,000 American Lives Every Year


Your Heart Loves Vitamin C 

Dr. Benjamin Weeks explains in this video from 2008 how vitamin C impacts the heath of the cardiovascular system.


Study Adds Weight to Link Between Calcium Supplements and Heart Problems

Research: Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular events: Reanalysis of the Women’s Health Initiative limited access dataset and meta-analysis

Research published in BMJ (British Medical Journal) in April 2011 adds to mounting evidence that calcium supplements increase the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly heart attacks, in older women. The findings suggest that their use in managing osteoporosis should be re-assessed.

Calcium supplements are often prescribed to older (postmenopausal) women to maintain bone health. Sometimes they are combined with vitamin D, but it’s still unclear whether taking calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, can affect the heart.

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study – a seven-year trial of over 36,000 women – found no cardiovascular effect of taking combined calcium and vitamin D supplements, but the majority of participants were already taking personal calcium supplements, which may have obscured any adverse effects.

So a team of researchers, led by Professor Ian Reid at the University of Auckland, re-analysed the WHI results to provide the best current estimate of the effects of calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, on the risk of cardiovascular events.

They analysed data from 16,718 women who were not taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial and found that those allocated to combined calcium and vitamin D supplements were at an increased risk of cardiovascular events, especially heart attack.

By contrast, in women who were taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial, combined calcium and vitamin D supplements did not alter their cardiovascular risk.

The authors suspect that the abrupt change in blood calcium levels after taking a supplement causes the adverse effect, rather than it being related to the total amount of calcium consumed. High blood calcium levels are linked to calcification (hardening) of the arteries, which may also help to explain these results.

Further analyses – adding data from 13 other trials, involving 29,000 people altogether – also found consistent increases in the risk of heart attack and stroke associated with taking calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, leading the authors to conclude that these data justify a reassessment of the use of calcium supplements in older people.

But in an accompanying editorial, Professors Bo Abrahamsen and Opinder Sahota argue that there is insufficient evidence available to support or refute the association.

Because of study limitations, they say “it is not possible to provide reassurance that calcium supplements given with vitamin D do not cause adverse cardiovascular events or to link them with certainty to increased cardiovascular risk. Clearly further studies are needed and the debate remains ongoing.”


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Medical News: Calcium Builds Bones But May Weaken Heart – in Cardiovascular, Myocardial Infarction from MedPage TodayThe findings suggest the use of these supplements in managing osteoporosis should be re-assessed, researchers reported online today in the BMJ. In the new study, researchers analyzed data from 16,718 women who were not taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial and found that those allocated to combined calcium and vitamin D supplements were at an increased risk of cardiovascular events, especially MI.

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Role Of Soy In Menopausal Health Reported

Discussion of a scientific review of soy protein, soy isoflavones and soy metabolites for peri- and postmenopausal women at North American Menopause Society (NAMS)/Wulf H. Utian Translational Science Symposium:


Soy has recently been reviewed and supported for introduction into general medical practice as a treatment for distressing vasomotor symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, but its use in other medical areas, such as heart health, requires further research, according to a new report reviewing the risks and benefits of soy protein, isoflavones and metabolites in menopausal health from The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)/Wulf H. Utian Translational Science Symposium, published in the July Menopause, the peer-reviewed NAMS journal.

“Although a significant amount of scientific research about soy and soy isoflavones exists, the adoption of soy isoflavones into the care of women in menopause has to date been recommended mainly by physicians and health care practitioners involved in integrative medicine. We believed that facilitating a robust review of the current scientific evidence about the benefits and risks of soy could yield a document useful to physicians to help them make decisions about soy use with their patients, particularly those in menopause,” said Belinda H. Jenks, Ph.D., director of Scientific Affairs & Nutrition Education at Pharmavite LLC. Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Pharmavite LLC and the Allmen Foundation supported the development of the symposium and report via an unrestricted educational grant.

The report focuses on a review of soy’s mechanism of action and processing within the body (bioavailability and pharmacokinetics), as well as on several therapeutic areas, concluding that use of soy isoflavones for hot flashes is reasonable and that soy food consumption is associated with lower risk of breast and endometrial cancer. The report also recommended more research to further characterize the effects of soy isoflavones on bone and cardiovascular health as well as cognition, which involves thinking, reasoning, or remembering.

The report, approved by the NAMS Board of Trustees, was authored by 22 clinicians and well-respected scientific research experts in women’s health and botanicals who participated in the symposium in October 2010. They examined basic and clinical research findings from more than two hundred key published controlled trials as well as laboratory studies of the soy isoflavones genistein and daidzein and the daidzein metabolite, S-equol. A supplement containing Natural S-equol for the management of menopausal symptoms is in development by Pharmavite LLC, the makers of Nature Made® vitamins and minerals and a subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.

About Soy Isoflavones and S-Equol

Soy isoflavones are compounds that can bind to estrogen receptors. The isoflavones genistein and daidzein are primarily found in whole soybeans and soy products. S-equol [7-hydroxy-3-(4′-hydroxyphenyl)-chroman] is a compound resulting — when certain bacteria are present in the digestive tract — from the metabolism, or conversion, of daidzein.

S-equol binds to the same estrogen receptors as naturally occurring, endogenous estrogen, but with a stronger affinity for the estrogen beta receptor. On binding to these receptors, S-equol mimics some, but not all, activities of endogenous estrogen. Because of these actions, it has been proposed that S-equol alleviates some of the symptoms caused by diminished estrogen production during menopause.

However, not everyone can produce S-equol after soy consumption, as the production depends on the types of bacteria present in the large intestine and may be influenced by the amount of soy consumed. About 50 percent of Asians and 20 to 30 percent of North Americans and Europeans, who in general consume less soy than Asians, have the ability to produce high levels of S-equol. Controlled clinical trials have documented that a supplement containing Natural S-equol reduces the frequency of hot flashes as well as muscle discomfort associated with menopause, in women both in Japan and the United States.

Soy Isoflavone Bioavailability and Pharmacokinetics

Not all soy foods or supplements contain the same amount or percentage of the three primary isoflavones genistein, daidzein or glycetein. Soyfoods and supplements can vary in soy isoflavone amounts and forms which, in turn, may impact the way the body will metabolize the isoflavones and subsequently can impact their effectiveness in health care, the report states.

For example, the rates of absorption in the body of the isoflavones daidzein and genistein depend on their form. As glycosides, which have an attached sugar molecule, both isoflavones can reach a peak plasma concentration in four to 10 hours. However, the human body cannot use this form, and during digestion the sugar is removed. This resulting aglycone form can be absorbed faster. When consumed as aglycosides, both daidzein and genistein can achieve peak concentrations in just one hour, or up to three hours if eaten with a meal. When the daidzein metabolite S-equol is consumed, its peak plasma rate rapidly occurs in just one to two hours.

The time needed for the total plasma concentration of either isoflavone to decrease by half typically is six to 12 hours and for S-equol, six to eight hours. However, genistein takes significantly longer to leave the body than daidzein. S-equol is excreted almost exclusively in urine, with 75 percent excreted within 12 hours after consumption.

Soy-isoflavones Reasonable for Menopausal Symptoms

The NAMS report advises that in postmenopausal women with distressing vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flashes, initial treatment with soy isoflavones is reasonable because of demonstrated modest effectiveness in early post-menopausal women who have at least four hot flashes daily. The report recommends a starting dose of 50 milligrams (mg) or more daily for at least 12 weeks. If a woman responds, the treatment can continue with monitoring for side effects, but for women who do not respond after 12 weeks, other treatment options should be discussed, the authors suggest.

However, the report points to increasing evidence that women whose gut bacteria have little or no capacity to covert daidzein to S-equol may continue to suffer from severe hot flashes despite daidzein supplementation. The report suggests that dietary supplements providing higher proportions of genistein or S-equol may provide more relief of menopausal symptoms than the modestly effective relief recognized by soy isoflavones alone. Also, the report recommends a supplement containing natural S-equol may be effective for some women who do not have the capacity to produce S-equol, which occurs only when certain bacteria are present in the digestive tract.

The authors’ menopause symptom treatment recommendations were based on a review of 14 studies that included data on soy isoflavone content and dosing, at least 12 weeks of treatment, women who experienced natural (not induced) menopause and the women’s average age, their prevalence of hot flashes at study start and their magnitude of symptom improvement.

Potential Protection for Breast and Endometrial Cancer

Soy foods, in populations that typically consume them, appear to protect against breast cancer. Therefore, the NAMS report advises that moderate life-long dietary soy consumption is recommended as part of a healthy lifestyle. The best evidence indicates that there are no adverse effects from this diet and it has potential for prevention of breast and endometrial cancer, the report states.

However, the authors note that specific recommendations regarding soy food or soy isoflavone consumption by breast cancer survivors cannot be made at this time, although such studies in humans indicate either no effect or a protective effect, but in contrast laboratory and rodent studies indicate a potential for risk.

The authors recommend studies of endometrial risk should focus on long-term, postmenopausal exposures to soy. The authors’ breast and endometrial cancer recommendations were based on a review of at least 18 studies.


Further Research about Soy Effects on Women’s Health

The NAMS report identifies several areas for further research on soy in midlife women. Specifically, the authors call for more studies that compare outcomes among women whose intestinal bacteria have the ability to convert daidzein to S-equol with those that do not to determine if equol producers derive greater benefits from soy supplementation. Also, larger studies are needed in younger postmenopausal women, as is more research to understand soy isoflavone supplement use in women. The authors also propose studies on the relationships of other dietary components as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications on soy isoflavones, consumed as a part of the diet or as a supplement, and S-equol production. And finally, the authors request greater standardization and documentation of clinical trial data regarding soy.



North American Menopause Society. The role of soy isoflavones in menopausal health: report of The North American Menopause Society/Wulf H. Utian Translational Science Symposium in Chicago, IL (October 2010). Menopause 2011; 18 (7): 732-53.

Natural S-equol. A scientific advancement for menopause therapy.


Walnuts Are Top Nut for Heart-Healthy Antioxidants

A new scientific study positions walnuts in the No. 1 slot among a family of foods that lay claim to being among Mother Nature’s most nearly perfect packaged foods: Tree and ground nuts. In a report at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim (27 March 2011), scientists presented an analysis showing that walnuts have a combination of more healthful antioxidants and higher quality antioxidants than any other nut.

“Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts,” said Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who did the analysis. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don’t eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet.”

Vinson noted that nuts in general have an unusual combination of nutritional benefits — in addition those antioxidants — wrapped into a convenient and inexpensive package. Nuts, for instance, contain plenty of high-quality protein that can substitute for meat; vitamins and minerals; dietary fiber; and are dairy- and gluten-free. Years of research by scientists around the world link regular consumption of small amounts of nuts or peanut butter with decreased risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, Type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

Despite all the previous research, scientists until now had not compared both the amount and quality of antioxidants found in different nuts, Vinson said. He filled that knowledge gap by analyzing antioxidants in nine different types of nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans. Walnuts had the highest levels of antioxidants.

Vinson also found that the quality, or potency, of antioxidants present in walnuts was highest among the nuts. Antioxidants in walnuts were 2-15 times as potent as vitamin E, renowned for its powerful antioxidant effects that protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease.

“There’s another advantage in choosing walnuts as a source of antioxidants,” said Vinson, who is with the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. “The heat from roasting nuts generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants. People usually eat walnuts raw or unroasted, and get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants.”

If nuts are so healthful and nutritious, why don’t people eat more? Vinson’s research shows, for instance, that nuts account for barely 8 percent of the daily antioxidants in the average person’s diet. Many people, he said, may not be aware that nuts are such a healthful food. Others may be concerned about gaining weight from a food so high in fat and calories. But he points out that nuts contain healthful polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats rather than artery-clogging saturated fat. As for the calories, eating nuts does not appear to cause weight gain and even makes people feel full and less likely to overeat. In a 2009 U. S. study, nut consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of weight gain and obesity. Still, consumers should keep the portion size small. Vinson said it takes only about 7 walnuts a day, for instance, to get the potential health benefits uncovered in previous studies.

Nutrition Information about the health benefits of walnuts with dietitian Cara Rosenbloom.


Seaweed As A Rich New Source Of Heart-Healthy Food Ingredients

In an article that may bring smiles to the faces of vegetarians who consume no dairy products and vegans, who consume no animal-based foods, scientists have identified seaweed as a rich new potential source of heart-healthy food ingredients. Seaweed and other “macroalgae” could rival milk products as sources of these so-called “bioactive peptides,” they conclude in an article in ACS’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Maria Hayes and colleagues Ciarán Fitzgerald, Eimear Gallagher and Deniz Tasdemir note increased interest in using bioactive peptides, now obtained mainly from milk products, as ingredients in so-called functional foods. Those foods not only provide nutrition, but have a medicine-like effect in treating or preventing certain diseases. Seaweeds are a rich but neglected alternative source, they state, noting that people in East Asian and other cultures have eaten seaweed for centuries: Nori in Japan, dulse in coastal Europe, and limu palahalaha in native Hawaiian cuisine.

Their review of almost 100 scientific studies concluded that that some seaweed proteins work just like the bioactive peptides in milk products to reduce blood pressure almost like the popular ACE inhibitor drugs. “The variety of macroalga species and the environments in which they are found and their ease of cultivation make macroalgae a relatively untapped source of new bioactive compounds, and more efforts are needed to fully exploit their potential for use and delivery to consumers in food products,” Hayes and her colleagues conclude.
Fitzgerald C, Gallagher E, Tasdemir D, Hayes M. Heart Health Peptides from Macroalgae and Their Potential Use in Functional Foods. J Agric Food Chem 2011; 59 (13): 6829–36.



Study Shows Pine Bark Naturally Improves Heart Function

Research reveals Pycnogenol and CoQ10 taken as an adjunct to medication improves heart health: Blood volume output, physical fitness, blood pressure, as well as heart and respiratory rate

HOBOKEN, NJ – A recent study published in Panminerva Medica reveals that a Pycnogenol® and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) combination (PycnoQ10®) taken by stable heart failure patients as an adjunct to medical treatment naturally strengthens the heart, increasing the blood volume ejected with each beat. As a consequence, the oxygen-rich blood supply to the organs improves, and patients become more physically energetic. Furthermore, blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rates were improved among patients. Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all) is an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree and has been clinically proven to improve endothelial function and blood flow. As evidenced by this study, Pycnogenol®, in combination with CoQ10, offers a potent contribution to heart health management.

Each year there are an estimated 400,000 newly diagnosed cases of heart failure in the U.S., according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Heart failure is a common, chronic, long-term condition that develops as a result of hypertension, when with heart chamber walls wear out and heart muscle weaken. The disease can be costly, disabling and potentially deadly and is characterized by the heart’s inability to pump or eject sufficient amounts of blood to the organs.

“Many conditions that lead to heart failure cannot be reversed, but heart failure can often be medically managed with good results,” said Dr. Gianni Belcaro, a lead researcher of the study. “This study shows that a combination of Pycnogenol® and CoQ10 offers an effective, natural solution as adjunct for heart health management.”

The 12-week single-blinded, placebo-controlled observational study was conducted at Chieti-Pescara University in Italy and investigated the effectiveness of Pycnogenol® and Kaneka CoQ10 (PycnoQ10®) supplementation in 53 patients. Patients were between the ages of 54 and 68 and had mild to moderate hypertension, with stable congestive heart failure. Patients recruited had been diagnosed with heart failure with an ejection fraction lower than 40 percent of their original capacity. The ejection fraction, the pumped blood volume to total left heart ventricle volume, was measured by high-resolution ultrasound. Additional inclusion criteria were a stable level of heart failure within the past three months and stable New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II (mild symptoms) or III (moderate symptoms) heart failure classification. NYHA functional classification system relates symptoms to everyday activities and the patient’s quality of life. All patients were taking prescribed heart medication and most patients used three or more drugs for heart failure treatment.

Patients were divided into two groups: One group received capsules with a combination of 15 mg Pycnogenol® and 50 mg CoQ10 from Kaneka. The second group received placebo capsules in addition to their individual prescription medications. The treatment and control groups were equivalent at baseline. Patients were instructed to take seven capsules, in the morning after breakfast, each day. Patients’ exercise capacity, as judged by walking on a treadmill, ejection fraction and distal edema (swelling in the leg) were evaluated.

At the conclusion of the 12-week study, there was significant decrease of systolic and diastolic pressure as well as a decrease in heart rate in the PycnoQ10® group, compared to marginal improvements in the control group. Systolic and diastolic pressure was notably lowered with PycnoQ10® from 139.2 to 133.2 mmHg and 82.3 to 77.3 mmHg, versus 140.3 to 139.5 mmHg and 83.4 to 81.2 mmHg in the control group. Heart rate was also significantly lowered from 78.4 to 74.2 beats per minute as compared to 79.1 to 78.4 in the control group. There was also considerable decrease in respiratory rate in PycnoQ10® patients from 23.1 to 21.2 breaths per minute versus 23.3 to 22.3 in the control group. The treatment with PycnoQ10® was found to significantly increase heart ejection fraction by 22.4 percent after treatment, whereas it only slightly decreased in the control group.

The physical abilities of patients improved substantially as evidenced by 3.3 times longer walking distance on a treadmill in PycnoQ10® treated patients, versus marginal improvement in the control group. As the heart is strengthened, a larger blood volume is pumped with every beat. This allows the heart to lower the beat rate and still sufficiently supply body organs with oxygen. The quality of life of patients also improved with PycnoQ10®, as validated with the Karnofsky Index, a performance scale that rates patients according to their functional impairment. At baseline patients had Karnofsky values of 43 percent, which is categorized as “handicapped and dependent on qualified medical help.” After treatment with PycnoQ10® the values were up to 54.7 percent, described as “help and medical assistance are often required.” No significant improvement of Karnofsky Index was observed in the control group. The distal edema, expressed as the percentage of the initial volumetric value, decreased significantly to 72 percent in PycnoQ10® treated patients but was increased by four percent in the control group. Nine PycnoQ10® treated patients (out of 32) and three (out of 21) taking placebo improved NYHA class.

“Coenzyme Q10 has been extensively researched for its ability to strengthen the heart muscle, specifically in patients with heart failure. Preclinical trials have suggested that Pycnogenol® strengthens heart chamber walls and dilates arteries,” said Dr. Belcaro. “These preliminary observations suggest that the respective contributions of Coenzyme Q10 and Pycnogenol® in PycnoQ10® may significantly improve heart health.”

The study showed decreased blood pressure and heart rate, confirming results from prior studies using Pycnogenol® and CoQ10. Previous studies have found that Pycnogenol® significantly improves endothelial function and consequently improves hypertension as well as long-term consequences such as renal function problems. To date, Pycnogenol® has been investigated in more than 30 clinical trials related to cardiovascular health.


Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Dugall M, Hosoi M, Ippolito E, Bavera P, Grossi MG. Investigation of Pycnogenol® in combination with coenzymeQ10 in heart failure patients (NYHA II/III). Panminerva Med 2010; 52 (2 Suppl 1): 21-5.