Don’t bother with dietary supplements for heart health, study says


Six supplements people commonly take for heart health don’t help lower “bad” cholesterol or improve cardiovascular health, according to a study published Sunday, but statins did.

Some people believe that common dietary supplements such as fish oil, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, plant sterols, and red yeast rice will lower their “bad” cholesterol. Known in the medical community as low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, “bad” cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to build up in the arteries. Fat deposits can block the flow of oxygen and blood needed for the heart to function, and the blockage can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

For this study, presented at the American Heart Association’s 2022 Scientific Session and simultaneously published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers compared the effect of these particular supplements with that of a low-dose statin — a cholesterol. down medication – or a placebo that does nothing.

The researchers made this comparison in a randomized, single-blind clinical trial involving 190 adults with no prior history of cardiovascular disease. Study participants were between the ages of 40 and 75, and different groups were given a low-dose statin called rosuvastatin, placebo, fish oil, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, plant sterols, or red yeast rice for 28 days.

The statin had the greatest effect when compared to the supplements and placebo and significantly lowered LDL.

After 28 days on a statin, the average LDL reduction was approximately 40%. The statin also provided additional benefits on average 24% lower total cholesterol and 19% lower blood triglycerides.

None of the people who took the supplements saw a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, or blood triglycerides, and their results were similar to those who took a placebo. While all groups had similar adverse events, there were numerically higher numbers of problems among those who took plant sterols or red yeast rice.

“We designed this study because most of us have the same experience of recommending evidence-based treatments to patients that reduce cardiovascular risks and then having them say, ‘no thanks, I’ll just try this supplement,'” he said. -author Dr. Karol Watson, professor of medicine/cardiology and co-director of the UCLA Preventive Cardiology Program. “We wanted to design a very stringent, randomized, controlled trial study to prove and rigorously demonstrate what we already knew.”

Cardiologist and researcher at the Cleveland Clinic and co-author of the study, Dr. Steven Nissen said patients often don’t know that dietary supplements have not been tested in clinical trials. These supplements are “21. century snake oil.

In the United States, the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994 sharply limited the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ability to regulate supplements. Unlike pharmaceutical products, which must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before a company can market them, the FDA does not need to approve dietary supplements before they are sold. It’s only after the FDA steps in to regulate them that they’re on the market and proven unsafe.

“Patients believe that studies have been done and that they are as effective as statins and can save them because they are natural, but just because they are natural does not mean they are safe and effective,” Nissen said.

The study was funded by an unlimited grant from AstraZeneca, which produces rosuvastatin. According to the research, the company had no input on methodology, data analysis, and discussion of clinical outcomes.

The researchers acknowledged some limitations, including the small sample size of the study, and the 28 study periods may not capture the effect of supplements when used for longer periods of time.

In a statement on Sunday, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association for the nutritional supplement industry, said “the supplements are not intended to replace medications or other medical treatments.”

“Dietary supplements are not intended to be quick fixes and their effects may not be apparent during a study spanning just four weeks,” said Andrea Wong, the group’s senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs.

Invasive cardiologist and medical director of University Hospitals Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute at University Hospitals Bedford Medical Center, Dr. James Cireddu said the study would help.

“They did a good job collecting data and looking at the results,” said Cireddu, who didn’t work on the study. “It will probably resonate with patients. I always get questions about supplements. I think it does a good job of providing evidence.”

Chair of the AHA Scientific Sessions programming committee, Dr. Amit Khera said he wasn’t working on the research, but thought it was an important study that should be included in this year’s presentations.

“I deal with patients every day with these exact questions. Patients always ask about supplements in place of or in addition to statins, says Khera, a professor and director of preventive cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “I think if you have high quality evidence and a well done study it’s really important to help inform patients about the value, or lack of value in this case, for some of these cholesterol-lowering supplements.”

Statins have been around for more than 30 years and have been studied in more than 170,000 people, he said. Consistently, studies show that statins reduce risk.

“The good news is we know that statins work,” Khera said. “That doesn’t mean they’re perfect. That doesn’t mean everyone needs them, but we know they work for those at higher risk, and it’s proven. If you’re going to do something different, you have to make sure it works.”

Along with supplements, she said she often sees misinformation online.

“I think people are always looking for something ‘natural’ but you know there are a lot of problems with this terminology and most importantly, we have to ask if it works. That’s what this study does,” adds Khera. “It’s important to ask if you’re getting something proven and if you’re doing it and not getting it, is this rather than proven treatment. This is a real concern.”


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