Older women who take calcium supplements for stronger bones are likely to face an increasing risk of heart disease, New Zealand researchers warn.
Calcium supplements are typically prescribed to women after menopause to preserve bone health, and some studies suggest it might also protect heart health by improving the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol.
However, after following up 1,471 healthy postmenopausal women aged 55 and above, Researchers at the University of Auckland said the supplements may reduce bone loss but at the cost of heart health.
The researchers assigned half of the study participants to get a daily calcium supplement of 1,000 mg and half to placebo pills. The average age in both groups was 74, reported the online edition of health Magazine WebMD.
The women in the supplement group got 861 mg of calcium from their diet per day on an average, boosting their total daily intake to 1,861. The placebo group averaged about 853 mg of calcium daily from their diet.
Heart attacks were more common in the calcium group, with 31 women on supplements having 36 heart attacks compared to 21 women on placebo having 22 heart attacks during the follow-up period, the researchers said.
The risk of a heart attack was about 1.5 times greater for those in the supplement group.
Considered together, strokes, heart attack, or sudden death were more common in those on supplements than on placebo, the researchers said.