- With Mayo Clinic cardiologist
Martha Grogan, M.D.read biographyclose window
Martha Grogan, M.D.Martha Grogan, M.D.
Dr. Martha Grogan is board-certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases. She is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and received her medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. Dr. Grogan has been on staff at Mayo Clinic since 1995 and is a consultant in the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and is an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School.
Dr. Grogan is a noninvasive cardiologist specializing in heart failure, adult congenital heart disease and echocardiography. She has witnessed firsthand the importance of patient education in the treatment of diseases such as congestive heart failure and is excited about the tremendous educational opportunities now available through the Internet.
Risk factors (2)
- Calcium supplements: A risk factor for heart attack?
- Silent heart attack: What are the risks?
Tests and diagnosis (1)
- Ejection fraction: What does it measure?
- Vitamin D deficiency: Can it cause high blood pressure?
- Omega-6 fatty acids: Can they cause heart disease?
Treatments and drugs (1)
- Polypill: Does it treat heart disease?
Lifestyle and home remedies (1)
- Grass-fed beef: What are the heart-health benefits?
- Heart attack prevention: Should I avoid secondhand smoke?
- Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
- Fasting diet: Can it improve my heart health?
- see all in Prevention
Calcium supplements: A risk factor for heart attack?
I've read that calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart attack. Is this true?
from Martha Grogan, M.D.
Some doctors think it's possible that taking calcium supplements may increase your risk of a heart attack. Other doctors believe that calcium supplements have little or no effect on your heart attack risk.
There's concern about calcium supplements and heart attack risk because many people take calcium supplements to treat or prevent bone diseases, such as osteoporosis. A recent study from the National Institutes of Health suggests there is an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases from taking calcium supplements for men only. Other studies suggest there is an increased risk for both men and women.
It's thought that the calcium in supplements could make its way into fatty plaques in your arteries — a condition called atherosclerosis — causing those plaques to harden and increase your risk of heart disease.
More research is needed before doctors know the effect calcium supplements may have on your heart attack risk. The calcium supplements that some doctors are concerned about are those that contain only calcium — not supplements that combine calcium and vitamin D or multivitamin supplements. Calcium from food sources, such as dairy and green leafy vegetables, is not a concern.
Current recommendations regarding calcium supplements for people who have, or have risk factors for, osteoporosis haven't changed. As with any health issue, it's important to talk to your doctor to determine what's best in your case.Next question
Silent heart attack: What are the risks?
- Bolland MJ, et al. Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: Meta-analysis. British Medical Journal. 2010;341:3691.
- Bolland MJ, et al. Calcium supplements with or without vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular events: Reanalysis of the Women's Health Initiative limited access dataset and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal. 2011;342:d2040.
- Shah SM, et al. Calcium supplementation, cardiovascular disease and mortality in older women. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. 2010;19:59.
- Li K, et al. Associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with myocardial infarction and stroke risk and overall cardiovascular mortality in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC-Heidelberg). Heart. 2012;98:920.
- Xiao Q, et al. Dietary and supplemental calcium intake and cardiovascular disease mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine. In press. Accessed April 5, 2013.
- Bockman RS, et al. The challenges of the single micronutrient study commentary on calcium supplements and cardiovascular events. The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. http://www.asbmr.org/About/detail.aspx?cid=3c1575bc-86cb-49bf-b397-2c748fe86581. Accessed April 5, 2013.