Do Calcium Supplements Affect Women’s Hearts?

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Many women take calcium for their bones, but what does this mean for their hearts?

“It’s cause for caution,” says Allegheny General Hospital cardiologist Dr. Tony Farah.

A study in the “British Medical Journal” reviewed more than 10 studies, including the Women’s Health Initiative, looking at heart attack and stroke risk related to calcium supplements. Turns out, those who took these had a 10 to 30 percent higher risk.

The reason for that isn’t clear. Calcium can play a role in hardening of the arteries, but calcified arteries aren’t necessarily in danger of blockage.

In fact, plaques in blood vessels that can rupture and clot and cause a heart attack are less likely to do that if they contain calcium.

“No one is reaching this 100 percent firm conclusion that okay, you should not take calcium,” Dr. Farah continues. “The worst thing we could do right now is make everyone nervous every time they think about taking calcium.”

And for women with thin bones? Whether to take calcium comes down to looking at which of several possibilities is more likely.

“Osteoporosis, bone fracture, versus having a heart attack,” Dr. Farah explains.

The studies do not show an increased risk if the calcium comes from food, rather than supplements. The recommended dose is 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams a day. To get that much, you would have to eat three cups of yogurt, four cups of milk or five ounces of cheese.

More Health News
More Reports By Dr. Maria Simbra
National Institutes of Health: Calcium Fact Sheet
PubMed Health: Heart Attack

  • Kathleen Smith

    I feel the above article leaves women ‘out to dry’, so to speak, not knowing enough to make an intelligent decision whether to continue the 1200mg calcium /Vitamin D regiment that they have been so dedicatedly sticking to or to let a reasonably sound diet be answer enough for their calcium needs. Of course, we are speaking of most women, in general, knowing that those, as stated above, who have special medical needs would have different criteria to consider.

  • Michelle Kitchens

    So those of us that had a complete hysterectomy, that have to take calcium does this put us at risk.

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