According to study published online in the journal Heart, calcium supplements, which are routinely given to elderly individuals to reduce their risk of developing brittle bones (osteoporosis) and fractures, are associated with a higher risk of death among persons who have aortic valve stenosis, a condition that progresses and may be deadly.
Furthermore, regardless of whether they are coupled with vitamin D or not, these supplements appear to make the condition, which is the most prevalent type of heart valve disease in people in industrialised countries, worse. Replacement of the defective valve, also known as AVR, is the only method of treatment that works (aortic valve replacement).
It is hotly debated whether calcium or vitamin D intake, whether from food or supplements, affects mortality and risk of cardiovascular disease. The prescription of both of these supplements has increased significantly in recent years, particularly among postmenopausal women, the researchers note, despite the fact that the majority of the evidence for their safety comes from animal studies.
The goal of the study was to determine the possible effects of these supplements on all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, the necessity for AVR, and the advancement of aortic stenosis in older adults.
Therefore, they monitored the heart health of 2657 individuals with mild to severe aortic stenosis (average age: 74; 42% female; monitoring period: more than 5.5 years) between 2008 and 2018.
Participants were separated into three groups: those who took only calcium supplements (115), those who took calcium plus or without vitamin D supplements (1033), and those who took no supplements at all (1292; 49%).
In comparison to those who did not take supplements, those who did had significantly higher rates of diabetes and coronary artery disease. Additionally, they had a higher likelihood of needing kidney dialysis, having undergone a coronary artery bypass graft, taking statins, warfarin, and phosphate binders (which prevent the absorption of phosphorus).
540 persons (20.5%) passed away during the monitoring period, with 235 of them dying of undetermined causes, 155 of other causes, and 150 of cardiovascular illness. In addition, 774 (29% of the population) had their aortic valve replaced. After 5 years, more than 30% of individuals in each group had significant aortic stenosis. Supplemental vitamin D did not appear to have any effect on survival. A significantly greater (31 percent) hazard of death from any cause and a doubling of the risk of cardiovascular death were, however, linked to calcium and vitamin D supplementation. Additionally, it was linked to a 48 percent increased incidence of AVR when compared to people who did not use supplements.
Additionally, calcium supplementation alone was linked to a nearly tripled incidence of AVR and a higher risk of death from any cause (24 percent). Additionally, those who didn’t have their aortic valve replaced and used calcium supplements had increased chances of cardiovascular disease and death from any cause.
Since this study is observational, a cause cannot be determined.
However, the study’s large sample size and lengthy follow-up time support the conclusion that calcium supplementation does not offer any cardiovascular benefits and may instead increase overall risks of AVR and death, particularly in people who are not receiving AVR.