Doctor, you are involved on a daily basis in the use of statins in the treatment of your patients' heart problems. What have you observed concerning patient tolerance and side effects when taking these particular drugs?
BJ: I believe that, with today's level of knowledge, statins offer the most effective long-term therapy against the harmful effects of cholesterol. In Germany alone, there are more than four million people who are receiving statins. At the same time, I receive patients in my surgery who complain about certain side effects such as muscular problems or general fatigue which have a debilitating effect on their daily lives. In addition, before prescribing such drugs, it is essential to examine and question the patient about his/her general state of health to ascertain whether other pathologies are present.
Does this mean that certain patients run a high risk in taking statins?
BJ: Yes. Certain patients should be observed particularly carefully because of their case history. This is particularly true for those who have had a previous heart attack, or who suffer from arteriosclerosis, diabetes, heart disease or who have experienced circulation problems or are known to have weak cardiac muscles. In these cases, I always check the level of Ubiquinol (total Coenzyme Q10) in the blood.
In what way does the concentration of Ubiquinol (total Coenzyme Q10) play a role?
BJ: Ubiquinol is a liposoluble substance similar to a vitamin. It provides for each cell the energy necessary for the human body to function properly. Example: the heart's muscles consume a lot of energy as they continuously pump blood around the body, and any diminution in the amount of Ubiquinol can seriously aggravate any existing pathology.
In what way do statins affect the organism's capabilities?
BJ: Statins block the synthesis of cholesterol in the body. Unfortunately, certain stages in this production cycle are also used for the natural production of Ubiquinol in the body. As a result, the natural synthesis of bodily Ubiquinol is retarded. And the first signs of general fatigue and a loss of strength appear when the body does not have a sufficient quantity of Ubiquinol at its disposal. A Ubiquinol deficiency can also show up all the associated muscular problems such as muscle tremors, cramp and pains. In such circumstances, Ubiquinol has an advantage in being not only synthesized by the body but can also be administered orally in the form of a food supplement.
Does this mean that patients taking statins need to be given Ubiquinol supplements to counter this lack - in other words to counter the side effects of statins?
BJ: This is indeed a possibility. That is why I propose a supplement based on Ubiquinol, the biologically active and the more 'bio-available’ form of Coenzyme Q10 for the human organism. Ubiquinol does not require to be transformed by the organism thanks to its biochemical structure. For this reason, Ubiquinol is more easily assimilated and active more quickly than the conventional Coenzyme Q10. In my practice, 80% of those patients taking a daily Ubiquinol dose of 100 mg tell me that their general state of health has improved after just one week. Among the first one hundred patients that I treated with Ubiquinol for severe muscular problems, sixty clearly benefited from taking the substance, in particular as regards their performance in their chosen sport. Muscular pains disappeared for twenty others, nine patients saw no improvement in their state of health, and one patient complained of an intolerance. The ten others said that they felt a slight improvement in their symptoms. I consider these to be very promising results.
What is the dose for obtaining the best results?
BJ: That naturally depends on the individual case. In general, one obtains good results with a daily dose of 100 mg. It is important to stress that Ubiquinol is a totally natural substance that is obtained for these purposes by fermentation of yeast. This particular form of food supplement is considered as a perfectly safe therapy without any side effects.
It is surely therefore conceivable to produce a combination of this substance associated with the statins. Why is such a product not available?
BJ: One can almost say that it's simply a question of form. In the past 20 years, several thousands of statin- treated patients have been studied, but none of these studies has ever included a control group of statin-Coenzyme Q10 patients. There are therefore no official comparative figures available from any specific study. And, at least in Germany, no combined preparation will be authorised for sale without an extensive database of scientifically obtained research data being available.
What is your personal recommendation?
BJ: I would recommend any patient who takes statins to have his/her blood level of total Coenzyme Q10 checked. And I would draw such patients' attention to the likely useful role that Ubiquinol can play. The dosage must be determined and regularly monitored by the patient's doctor. It is often so simple to avoid undesirable side effects and to minimise the risks. Often the only thing that is lacking is an understanding of the interaction with the level of total Coenzyme Q10. Local pharmacies also have an important role to play. They can advise their customers by explaining the link between the side effects of statin-based treatments and the deficiency of Ubiquinol, thereby making the patient at least aware of the issue. The pharmaceutical industry in the meantime reacts with products targeted at aiding patients who take statins.