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Heart Disease Health Center

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Calcium Supplements May Increase Heart Risk

Study Shows Increased Risk of Heart Attacks for Women Taking Calcium Supplements

Calcium and Heart Attack Risk continued...

“Preventive health isn’t really a one-size-fits-all proposition,” she says. “If you are a woman who has a greater risk for heart disease vs. a greater risk of osteoporosis and fractures, perhaps calcium supplementation is not something for you to take,” she says.

Major heart disease risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and family history.

“Think twice about calcium if you are at risk for heart disease, but this study is not the final answer,” she says.

Not so fast, says WHI study author JoAnn Manson, DrPH, MD, the chair of preventive medicine department at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

“This is a selective re-analysis of certain subgroups of the WHI calcium and vitamin D trial,” she says.

“Overall, there was no evidence of an increase or decrease in risk for coronary heart disease or stroke with use of calcium and vitamin D,” she says.

What’s more, another arm of the WHI, which looked at coronary artery calcium levels, showed no evidence of increased heart risks among women who were randomly assigned to calcium plus vitamin D.

Calcium From Food

Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Women’s Heart Program at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, says women must be aware of how much calcium they get through diet and how much they get through supplements to avoid getting too much of this mineral.

“Calculate how much you are eating through food and balance off the rest with supplements so it equals 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day for women older than 50,” she says.

“Women should also take a global approach to their heart disease risk and get risk factors evaluated,” she says. “Calcium intake alone is not the only risk marker for heart disease.”

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