They make your bones strong, but they might be putting your heart in danger. Millions of women take calcium supplements to fight osteoporosis. Now doctors have a warning about the pills.
Cardiologist Alan Ackermann calls it the widow-maker.
"I just couldn't believe it," said heart patient Daisy Sotolongo
That was her reaction when she found out that the main artery in her heart was 99% blocked.
"She was about to have a major heart attack because of it," said Dr. Ackermann.
Doctors opened the blockages before that happened. Then Daisy found out that she may have been increasing her own risk of heart attack just by trying to prevent osteoporosis.
"And the doctor told me I needed to take calcium," said Sotolongo.
A study finds that oral calcium supplements like the ones Daisy was taking can increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 86%..
"It is a real issue that needs to be looked at," said Dr. Ackermann
Ackermann says when taken in concentrated pill form, it could quickly raise the amount of calcium in your blood.
"The theory behind it is that when you have a rapid rise of calcium that it can promote clotting which will give you a heart attack," said Dr. Ackermann.
He says women need to know their risk factors for heart disease and osteoporosis to determine if the supplements will help or hurt them, if prone to heart disease
"What we're advocating now is that you try to consume more foods that will give you natural calcium rather than take the oral supplements," he said.
Try non-fat dairy products like yogurt or cottage cheese. Or, reach for the greens! Brocolli, collard greens and spinach are great sources of calcium.
Daisy's making veggies her main source of calcium, and she's lifting weights to strengthen her bones. Now, after her close call.
"I feel great," she said.
Ackermann says natural calcium may be better for women who are trying to prevent osteoporosis because it's absorbed by the body more gradually. He says it is important to talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about oral calcium supplements and your risk of heart disease.
Calcium cons: scary side effect of oral supplements?
Calcium: the human body needs calcium for many reasons such as to build and maintain bones and teeth, blood clotting, the transmission of nerve impulses, and for the regulation of the heart's rhythm. 99% of calcium in the body is found in bones and teeth, while the remaining 1% is found in the blood and other tissue. People take in calcium through food and supplements, but if there is not enough calcium coming into the body from what an individual is eating, the body gets the calcium it needs by pulling it from the bones thinking that the used calcium will later be replaced. This does not always happen and bone destruction begins to exceed bone production in individuals not receiving enough calcium and physical activity, although this begins to occur with age as well. Osteoporosis is when the bones are weakened because of this imbalance between bone building and bone destruction. (source: www.hsph.harvard.edu)
Heart attack risk: a study of 23,980 men and women in heidleberg, germany by the european prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition found that individuals who use calcium supplements regularly are 86% more likely to have a heart attack than those that do not. Individuals that received their calcium solely from supplements were 2.7 times more likely to experience a heart attack. While calcium is important for several organs, including the heart, the study found that people should only take supplements when a medical need to do so exists and those with heart problems should be especially careful. It is important to understand, the calcium supplements do not cause the heart attacks but rather increases the risk of heart attacks. (source: www.gaurdian.co.uk)
Beat osteoporosis without supplements: certain people with severe osteoporosis problems will most likely still need to take supplements, but there are other things women and men can do to strengthen their bones and get the calcium they need without supplements.
* regular exercise, especially weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening, helps to prevent osteoporosis as well as help slow it down for individuals already experiencing it.
* vitamin d, found in sunlight and milk, and vitamin k, found in leafy green vegetables, also help to slow the process of osteoporosis and keep bones healthy.
* try to stay away from too much vitamin a, caffeine, soda, and protein since these tend to promote calcium-borrowing from bones and excretion of calcium in urine.
With these tips, plus eating calcium-rich foods, supplements will be unnecessary and the fear of a heart attack can be avoided. (source: www.hsph.harvard.edu)
For more information, contact:
Alan ackermann do, facc