Calcium Heart Attack Risk, Calcium pills “do more harm than good’ the Daily Mail has reported. By contrast, the Telegraph tells us there is “no need to panic over new calcium heart attack research”. So, which to believe?
These headlines are based on the findings of a large German study that looked at the association between calcium intake and incidents of heart attack, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular disease over a period of 11 years.
Calcium supplements are often given to elderly people and women who have gone through the menopause, in an effort to keep their bones healthy.
Researchers found no link between the amount of calcium in people’s diet and their risk of stroke or cardiovascular deaths. However, people using calcium supplements as their only form of supplement had more than twice the risk of heart attack compared with people who didn’t take any vitamin supplements.
This suggests that there may be an increased risk of heart attack due to calcium supplements, but on its own doesn’t mean that these supplements cause heart attacks as other factors may be at play. The researchers believed that people who take supplements may be generally less healthy than those who don’t (assuming they take supplements for a health reason) so they tried to adjust for other risk factors such as smoking habits and exercise levels. However, it is unlikely they adjusted for all the influencing factors and so we still cannot be certain that calcium supplements increase heart attacks.
Previous research based on stronger study designs has also supported a link between calcium supplements and heart disease. If you are considering taking calcium supplements, you need to base your decision on your own circumstances, balancing the benefits with the potential risks.
Do not be alarmed by the media headlines. If you have been prescribed calcium supplements do not stop taking your medication. Speak to your doctor if you have particular concerns. (Tyrone Times)