Over-the-counter supplements that cost 1.10 a day 'can cut risk of heart disease by half'
08:10 GMT, 28 May 2012
Two widely over the counter supplements could in combination halve the risk of dying of heart disease, according to a new study.
A combination of selenium and coenzyme Q10 significantly reduced the risk of cardiovascular deaths among elderly patients, scientists found.
As well as helping to beat the illness the tablets, which cost just 1.10 a day, were also found to help the hearts of test subjects work more efficiently.
Double action: Selenium and coenzyme Q10 work synergistically to improve cardiovascular health, according to a new study by Swedish researchers
The research, by scientists from Linkoping University and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, could have major implications in the UK, where heart disease kills 94,000 people every year.
More than six million people are currently prescribed powerful drugs like statins to reduce LDL cholesterol, which can clog arteries.
But the new treatment could be a cheaper and more natural way to fight cardiovascular disease and improve the lives of sufferers.
The Swedish team, led by Dr Urban Alehagen, carried out a study of 443 healthy men and women aged between 70 and 88.
Participants were randomly chosen to either receive 200mg per day of coenzyme Q10 capsules and 200g of organic selenium yeast tablets, or a placebo, for 48 months.
They found that of those given the widely available supplements, 5.9 per cent had died of heart disease after five years, compared to 12.9 per cent of those in the placebo group.
Participants given the supplements were also found to have much reduced levels of N-terminal proBNP, a chemical marker which shows whether the heart is operating under increased tension.
And data from echocardiography revealed a 'significant[ly] better cardiac function score was found in the active supplementation compared to the placebo group.'
Dr Alehagen writes in the International Journal of Cardiology: 'This study investigates for the first time the interrelationship between selenium and coenzyme Q10 and the compounds have been used in a therapeutic purpose to affect the [cardiac wall cells].
'We suggest that the results of this study can provide a basis for extended analyses of the effects of selenium/coenzyme Q10 on various conditions, and that further supplementation studies in larger populations involving diverse age groups should be initiated.'
An essential micronutrient, selenium has been shown to increase resistance to flu, fight cancer and boost fertility and longevity.
British soil, like much of northern Europe, is not naturally rich in selenium and most people only get around half the amount they need from their diet.
It is typically found in Brazil nuts, eggs, kidney, bread, fish and shellfish.
Coenzyme Q10 plays a vital role in the production of energy in mitochondria – the power plants of the cells that make up our bodies.
It has been studied for its role in cognitive health, heart health and anti-aging, including wrinkle creams.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, told the Daily Express: 'These results will need to be confirmed in larger studies before they can be recommended to patients.'