Much of the latest research into improving cardiovascular health focuses on plant and herbal extracts, as well as carotenoids, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Scientific studies in Italy have shown that heart function and blood flow of heart failure patients can both be improved using an extract from French Maritime Pine Bark and Coenzyme Q10 combined.
When 350 milligrams of CoQ10 and 105 milligrams of Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) were administered daily over the course of 12 weeks, a difference in blood pressure and heart rate was noticeable when compared with a control group (the control group received a placebo). The biggest noticeable improvement between these two groups, noted by researchers at Italy’s Chieti-Pescara University, was an increase in blood pumping rate of 22%.
The researchers go on to report that tests on Pine Bark Extract reveal its ability to dilate arteries and increase the strength of heart chamber wall muscle. Coenzyme Q10 has been extensively trialed and has also been shown to improve heart muscle strength. With an estimated 400,000 diagnosed heart failure cases in the US each year (according to the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute), research into Pine Bark Extract and Coenzyme Q10 may significantly improve the health of the nation.
Although many of the problems leading to heart failure cannot be reversed, conditions such as hypertension can be managed to prevent any further decline. Hypertension is characterized by high blood pressure, which causes heart walls to weaken and eventually wear out. This causes the heart to lose its ability to efficiently pump blood around the body with possible knock-on effects in other organs due to poor blood flow. This incredibly serious condition can eventually lead to death.
In the recent Italian study, researchers observed a decrease of heart beats per minute from 78 to 74 in the group using Pine Bark Extract and CoQ10 supplements compared with a placebo group decrease of 79 to 78 beats per minute: this demonstrates the real effects of these natural supplements in reducing the strain on the heart.
According to the research group, CoQ10 and Pine Bark Extract may offer as low cost treatment to prevent the heart failure epidemic worsening, with the added benefit that the supplements were tolerable by most study participants. As well as proposing to look at other potential benefits of these supplements, researchers intend to perform a wider study to include more diversity in age and health as this initial study was limited to a group of 53 heart failure patients aged 54 to 68.