Calcium Supplements Hurt the Heart?

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Researchers say they now have evidence that too much of a good thing can possibly damage your heart. (KFSN)

Researchers say they now have evidence that too much of a good thing can possibly damage your heart. The results of a new study suggest that calcium supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries.

For Brenda Marie Black, canvas, paintbrushes and color soothe her soul. This 54-year-old has spent decades reducing stress. She eats right, fruits and vegetables fuel her body, and she works out. But one day, "I was running and all of a sudden I felt this real heavy feeling on my chest, almost like someone was stepping on my chest," Black shared.

Black's husband took her to the hospital. She was having a heart attack.

"They said there was blockage, but didn't attribute it to anything in particular," Black told Ivanhoe.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found evidence that plaque buildup in the heart may come from an unexpected source, over-the-counter calcium supplements. The researchers studied ten years' worth of medical information for 2,700 patients, including scans of the heart arteries.

"We found those who were taking supplements, calcium supplements compared to non-supplement users were 22% more likely to have new development of calcium on heart arteries on the second CAT scans ten years apart," shared Erin Michos, M.D., MH.S., an associate professor of medicine and cardiologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Black was not part of the Johns Hopkins study, but she had been taking supplements for about two years.

Black confessed, "I kind of increased it in the last year where I thought maybe more was better for me because I'm not getting calcium. At least not as much as I should."

Dr. Michos said, "I think that patients think because these are over-the-counter that they're safe, and more is better."

Instead, experts advise patients to get more calcium from their diets.

Kelly Alagna, R.N., B.S.N, a cardiac nurse at Johns Hopkins Medicine mentioned, "Green leafy vegetables are a great source. They're almost equivalent to a lot of dairy products."

Kale, spinach, bok choy, broccoli and brussel sprouts are good non-dairy sources of calcium.

Black is getting stronger every day and she has sworn off the daily pills and chews she used to favor.

"If calcium supplements are causing blockage then the word needs to get out," Brenda said.

The research also indicated that dietary calcium may have a positive impact on heart health. Dr. Michos said for some patients with differing calcium needs, the low-dose supplements may be helpful. But even though they are available without a prescription, she recommended people should consult with their doctor before taking them.

For More Information, Contact:

Kelly Alagna, RN, BSN
Cardiac Nurse
University School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Erin Michos, MD, MHS
Johns Hopkins
Related Topics:
healthsupplementshealth watch
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