Research Article: Still reduced cardiovascular mortality 12 years after supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10 for four years: A validation of previous 10-year follow-up results of a prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial in elderly

Date Published: April 11, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Urban Alehagen, Jan Aaseth, Jan Alexander, Peter Johansson, Doan TM Ngo.


Selenium and coenzyme Q10 are both necessary for optimal cell function in the body. The intake of selenium is low in Europe, and the endogenous production of coenzyme Q10 decreases as age increases. Therefore, an intervention trial using selenium and coenzyme Q10 for four years as a dietary supplement was performed. The main publication reported reduced cardiovascular mortality as a result of the intervention. In the present sub-study the objective was to determine whether reduced cardiovascular (CV) mortality persisted after 12 years, in the supplemented population or in subgroups with diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart disease or reduced functional capacity due to impaired cardiac function.

From a rural municipality in Sweden, four hundred forty-three healthy elderly individuals were included. All cardiovascular mortality was registered, and no participant was lost to the follow-up. Based on death certificates and autopsy results, mortality was registered.

After 12 years a significantly reduced CV mortality could be seen in those supplemented with selenium and coenzyme Q10, with a CV mortality of 28.1% in the active treatment group, and 38.7% in the placebo group. A multivariate Cox regression analysis demonstrated a reduced CV mortality risk in the active treatment group (HR: 0.59; 95%CI 0.42–0.81; P = 0.001). In those with ischemic heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and impaired functional capacity we demonstrated a significantly reduced CV mortality risk.

This is a 12-year follow-up of a group of healthy elderly participants that were supplemented with selenium and coenzyme Q10 for four years. Even after twelve years we observed a significantly reduced risk for CV mortality in this group, as well as in subgroups of patients with diabetes, hypertension, ischemic heart disease or impaired functional capacity. The results thus validate the results obtained in the 10-year evaluation. NCT01443780.

Partial Text

Selenium is a trace element that can be found in all living cells[1, 2]. Important selenoproteins in the body are selenoprotein P, glutathione peroxidases, and thioredoxin reductase, all protecting against oxidative stress. Increased vascular oxidative stress and endothelial dysfunction in patients with coronary heart disease have been reported, although the results are conflicting[3, 4]. In European populations with low dietary selenium intakes as a result of the low selenium content in the soil, biofortification has been regarded as logical[5, 6], as opposed to the status in the United States where the selenium soil content is generally high. The estimated serum selenium concentrations in US citizens are generally above 120 μg/L,[7, 8] whereas concentrations below 90 μg/L are invariably reported from European countries.[9–13].

The design of the main study has been published elsewhere [19]. In brief, 443 elderly healthy participants were given dietary supplementation of 200 mg/day of coenzyme Q10 capsules (Bio-Quinon 100 mg B.I.D, Pharma Nord, Vejle, Denmark) and 200 μg/day of organic selenium yeast tablets (SelenoPrecise 200 μg, Pharma Nord, Vejle, Denmark), or a similar placebo during 48 months, and then the interventions was finished. The study supplementation was taken in addition to regular medication if used. All study medications (active drug and placebo) not consumed were returned and counted. All participants were examined by one of three experienced cardiologists. A new clinical history was recorded, and a clinical examination was performed, including blood pressure, assessment of New York Heart Association functional class (NYHA class) as well as ECG and echocardiography. Doppler echocardiographical examinations were performed with the participant in the left lateral position. The ejection fraction (EF) readings were categorized into four classes with interclass limits placed at 30%, 40% and 50% [21, 22]. Normal systolic function was defined as EF≥ 50%, while severely impaired systolic function was defined as EF< 30%. The first participant was included in January 2003, and the last participant concluded the study in February 2010. The study population were followed regarding CV mortality during a median follow-up time of 4233 days (range 348–5275), i.e. about 12 years. In the survival group the median follow-up time was 4484 days (range 404–5275), and in the CV mortality group a median follow-up time of 2818 days (range 348–4869) was recorded. In an intervention study in 443 elderly healthy persons, selenium and coenzyme Q10 were given as a combined dietary supplement for four years. After this period no intervention was given, and thus some of the participants have been without the selenium and coenzyme Q10 intervention for ten years. Our results show a continual and significant reduction in CV mortality during the whole follow-up period of 12 years, which also included the eight-year period after termination of the intervention (Table 4). The presented study has a limited sample size, making the interpretation of the results difficult. However, the statistical evaluations are extensive due to the many evaluations performed in the study population, including those previously published. We present a 12-year analysis of CV mortality in an elderly Swedish population that had been given supplementation with selenium and coenzyme Q10 as a contribution to their diet for four years. The present follow-up revealed a reduced CV mortality risk of more than 40%, and a significant risk reduction in those with hypertension, IHD, impaired cardiac function, and diabetes. We consider that the presented data, based on small sample sizes, should be regarded as hypothesis-generating, as the data are both intriguing and surprising.   Source:


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