Supplement may help with bacterial pneumonia recovery
Bacterial pneumonia is a very serious, often life-threatening illness especially in the elderly.
Recent medical studies have demonstrated that taking the dietary supplement coenzyme Q10 during the hospitalization may reduce mortality by almost 50 percent.
In the United States, more than 2 million people over the age of 50 years old will be hospitalized for bacterial pneumonia. Even in the age of the pneumonia vaccine, mortality rates among the elderly hospitalized for bacterial pneumonia can be as high as 35 percent.
Medical costs associated with an uncomplicated hospitalization for bacterial pneumonia is almost $10,000 with annual cost of over $7 billion to Medicare alone. Clearly this is a serious medical problem for which there is significant room for improvement.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like compound that exists in all of our cells. It plays a key role in the production of energy in the power plants of the cell, the mitochondria. It is also a powerful antioxidant that the body uses to reverse and prevent oxidative damage especially to the cell membrane fats.
Recent research has demonstrated another role for CoQ10. It inhibits a number of compounds that are involved in inflammation and the inflammatory response. Some of these compounds such as interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and nuclear factor-kB may also play a role in cancer. When used by patients hospitalized because of bacterial pneumonia, the anti-inflammatory properties of CoQ10 may reduce mortality and morbidity.
Good medical research is being done throughout the world. The first double blinded, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effect of CoQ10 on bacterial pneumonia was recently published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal.
In this study 140 elderly patients hospitalized with bacterial pneumonia were evenly divided and given either a modest amount of CoQ10 (200 mg per day) or a placebo for 14 days in addition to the usual medical care. Clinical cures were seen throughout the trial, but measured at days three, seven and 14.
For those patients who took CoQ10, the clinical cures at days three and seven were 34.3 percent and 88.6 percent respectively. In contrast, those patients receiving placebo clinical cure at days three and seven were 31 percent and 73.2 percent, respectively.
Hospital stays were significantly reduced in those patients taking CoQ10 and the failure rate in this group was less than half of those receiving placebo.
Although this is the first medical study looking at the effect of CoQ10 on bacterial pneumonia outcomes, the use of CoQ10 in other medical conditions has been published.
CoQ10 seems to benefit Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Friedreich's ataxia, congestive heart failure, hypertension, type II diabetes and migraines.
Even though this is only one study, given the effect of bacterial pneumonia in the elderly and the safety profile of CoQ10, it would seem to be a good idea to include CoQ10 as part of the medical therapy for patients hospitalized with pneumonia.
• Patrick B. Massey, MD, PH.D., is medical director for complementary and alternative medicine at Alexian Brothers Hospital Network and president of ALT-MED Medical and Physical Therapy, 1544 Nerge Road, Elk Grove Village. His website is www.alt-med.org.