Do Calcium Supplements Raise the Risk of Getting a Heart Attack?
As a precaution, to maintain good bone density and lowering the risk on osteoporosis, many post menopausal women are prescribed vitamin D or calcium supplements, and sometimes both.
According to an article in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) doctors should be very cautious with prescribing this supplements because it appears to raise the risk of cardiovasular problems, especially heart attacks!!
The authors of the article, researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, didn’t trust the outcome (being: No evidence for cardiovascular problems after using vitamin D and calcium supplements for a longer period) of an earlier 7-year trial involving over 36.000 women. They claimed the trial was compromised because most women allready took calcium supplements before the trial. Therefore the cardiovascular impact of taking calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, couldn’t be properly assessed.
They re-examined the data of the women participating in this trial and discovered that 50% of the women didn’t take calcium supplements before the trial, so there was a good partitioning to compare the group of women who did and didn’t use calcium before the trial.
They determined that the prescribed combination of vitamin D and calcium supplements did produce a higher risk on cardiovascular accidents, in particular a heart attack, but this risk wasn’t increased among the women who took calcium before the trial began.
Their conclusion: it isn’t the amount of calcium consumed that increases the risk , but the sudden change in blood calcium levels after starting to take the supplement!!
They also looked into other trials and claim there is a link between cardiovascular accidents and taking calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D.
Professors B. Abrahamsen and O. Sahota, due to the limitations of the study, wrote: “It is not possible to provide reassurance that calcium supplements given with vitamin D do not cause adverse cardiovascular events or to link them with certainty to increased cardiovascular risk. Clearly further studies are needed and the debate remains ongoing”.
Which still doesn’t answer the question whether menopausal women should or should not take calcium supplements!! In this case the means could be more terrible than the ailment…….