Calcium supplements linked to increased risk of heart attack

July 29, 2010

Calcium supplements, commonly taken by older people for osteoporosis, are associated with an increased risk of a heart attack, finds a study published in the British Medical Journal today.

The results suggest that a reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in osteoporosis management is needed.

Calcium supplements are commonly prescribed for skeletal health, but a recent trial suggested they might increase rates of heart attack () and in healthy older women.

To further investigate this important issue, an international team of researchers analysed the results of 11 randomised controlled trials of calcium supplements (without co-administered vitamin D) involving 12,000 patients.

Differences in study design and quality were taken into account to minimise bias.

They found that calcium supplements were associated with about a 30% increased risk of heart attack and smaller, non-significant, increases in the risk of stroke and mortality.

The findings were consistent across trials and were independent of age, sex, and type of supplement.

Although the increase in risk is modest, the widespread use of calcium supplements means that even a small increase might translate into a large burden of disease in the population, warn the authors.

Previous studies have found no increased cardiovascular risks with higher dietary , suggesting that the risks are restricted to supplements.

Given the modest benefits of calcium supplements on bone density and fracture prevention, a reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in osteoporosis management is warranted, they conclude.

An accompanying editorial by Professor John Cleland and colleagues suggests that, while uncertainty exists about whether the increase in and stroke is real, there are also doubts about the efficacy of calcium supplements in reducing fractures. On the basis of the limited evidence available, patients with osteoporosis should generally not be treated with , either alone or combined with vitamin D, unless they are also receiving an effective treatment for osteoporosis for a recognised indication. They also believe that research on whether such supplements are needed as an adjunct to effective agents is urgently required.

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5 / 5 (2) Jul 29, 2010
Weakened enzyme and acid production in the elderly exagerrated by calcium supplements thus blocking absorbtion of vital nutrients could be an explanation.
5 / 5 (6) Jul 30, 2010
From the info I've been reading if you take calcium without magnesium then it takes it from what the body has stored thereby depleting magnesium levels which increases risks for heart attack. Maybe there should be another study done but using magnesium with calcium. Maybe the elderly is more likely to be depleted in magnesium and if they take calcium without the magnesium then they become more depleted in magnesium which would increase risk for heart attack as magnesium is vital for proper heart function.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 30, 2010
The article or research is deficient in information. What are the specifications of the supplements that were taken? does it include magnesium, zinc and boron? No mention is made of these, only an absence of vitamin D.
AS a result one cannot draw any conclusion from the article as is stands. One will have to read the research paper to find out what was used.
5 / 5 (2) Jul 30, 2010
This meta-study apparently only considered persons taking supplements that contained nothing but calcium. In the real world, people like me take a supplement that includes Calcium, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Zinc, and Manganese. I am convinced that this more balanced supplement, plus Vitamin K as recommended by nitritionists, will upgrade my bone heath without the negative effects theorized by these analysts. Why don't they evaluate real-world supplements instead of cheap calcium pills?
not rated yet Aug 01, 2010
The exclusion of co-administration of vitamin d makes this study and the reporting of it questionable, to say the least.

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