Taking calcium, and the risk factor for heart attacks

A recent study has suggested that taking calcium can increase a person’s risk for heart attack.  In a study from the National Cancer Institute, published in the February 4th, Journal of the American Medical Association : Internal Medicine, found and increase risk of heart attack in men taking Calcium Supplements.

A huge debate is raging about men AND women taking Calcium, because of this new association with heart attacks. In 2010, 2 different studies in Europe called out the warning of taking Calcium supplements and heart attacks. A different study suggested that taking Calcium without taking vitamin D, raised the risk of heart attack.

Do not stop taking Calcium supplementThe problem with all the studies is that they have a tough time controlling the study groups.  The biggest problem I found was that the studies could not leave out people without risk factors for heart attack. The other big problem again was they did not look at obesity as an influence in the study.  What I am telling all of you is to remain calm. DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR CALCIUM.  Particularly if you are a bariatric surgery patient post-surgery and particularly if you are a woman.

Obesity surgery patients CAN NOT get enough calcium from their nutrition. That is why the older a woman gets (closer to 50), the more important it is to get your supplemental calcium.  And indeed you must get your vitamin D’s in your multi-vitamins.  I have never been convinced about the importance of calcium for men. Guys’ bone physiology is far different than women, because of increased testosterone availability for a longer time and because of increased muscle mass. I suspect these studies are trying to apply the same medicine to everyone regardless of sex or health.

My other suspicion is that in trying to improve the health of patients with known heart disease, they have recommended they take Calcium. As a doctor, the folks most likely to have a heart attack…is someone I know has heart problems. Duh!  The final recommendation of the editors of JAMA: Internal Medicine, without any scientific evidence to support their statement is “Calcium is good, but the best way to get is through food”. How much do they pay these guys?

This to me sounded like Jerry Springer’s Last Word on his crazy tv program. Because they are the editors of a very important medical magazine, they feel they have to make a statement to calm the masses. What any respectable editor would do, would be to tell everyone to wait until better information came out to guide us.  For all of the Texas bariatric surgery patients out there wondering what the safest take away message, is here are Dr Dirk’s Final Words
1. High protein, low carb, small frequent meals
2. Multi-vitamins every day
3. Women – take your calcium every day with Vitamin D. Men check with your surgeon.
4. Aerobic exercise – every day
5. Get regular check-ups with your doctor
And if you are worried about your heart or about your risk for a heart attack, have your doctor
schedule a heart stress test for you.