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Dietary supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B do not appear to protect against heart attacks and strokes, according to a French study.
Dietary supplements have no effect on heart attacks or strokes. The German Neurological Society announced that "the use of dietary supplements to prevent cardiovascular events (...) cannot be recommended".
Numerous nutritional supplements with a wide variety of promised effects are available on the market. However, neither omega-3 fatty acids nor B vitamins protect against diseases of the cardiovascular system. This is also the result of a randomized French study with 2,501 participants, in which no difference in the frequency of serious cardiovascular events after taking supplements could be found. Including this current French study, new large studies have already shown that the dietary supplements do not have a preventive effect in cardiovascular events.
Over 2,500 patients examined for almost 5 years In the French study, the 2,501 participants were divided into four groups and subsequently received either B vitamins at random for an average of 4.7 years (specifically a mixture of B6, B12 and the folic acid compound 5-methyltetrahydrofolate), omega-3 fatty acids, both active ingredients or a dummy treatment. 1,150 of the participating patients had just survived a heart attack, 638 suffered a stroke and 713 patients were diagnosed with unstable angina pectoris (heart pain). As part of the study, patients aged between 45 and 80 were looked after by a network of 417 doctors and specialists, starting on average 101 days after their heart disease with taking the dietary supplements and dummy medicines. The research team led by Pilar Galan from the Université Paris found that neither the B vitamin pills nor the omega-3 fatty acids as dietary supplements could significantly reduce the number of serious cardiovascular events.
No reduction in cardiovascular events from dietary supplements Ultimately, none of the dietary supplements was able to reduce the total number of serious cardiovascular events compared to the dummy drug. In the comparison between B vitamins and placebo 75 against 82 patients, a serious vascular event would have occurred, which is of a statistically negligible order of magnitude and can be caused by chance. The comparison of omega-3 fatty acids and placebo resulted in 81 versus 76 serious cardiovascular events, which would suggest an increase in risk. At first glance, the result looked more positive when it came to reducing the number of strokes caused by B vitamins: the number had decreased from 36 to 21 events. However, the mortality rate rose significantly from 72 to 45 deaths, the French researchers report. Therefore, according to the expert of the German Society for Neurology, Professor Hans-Christoph Diener, "the use of dietary supplements to prevent cardiovascular events" can still not be recommended - and certainly should not replace proven therapies. "
B vitamins reduce homocysteine concentration Regarding the results of the French study, Professor Diener emphasized: "This study thus confirms again that positive correlations from observational studies are not a good basis for recommendations to patients." Although some epidemiological studies have shown that Increased concentrations of the alpha-amino acid homocysteine in the blood are a risk indicator for cardiovascular events and the French study confirmed a homocysteine-lowering effect of the vitamin B cocktail - the homocysteine concentration in the blood plasma was 19 percent lower than that of the placebo group. However, nine large studies have now shown that despite the reduction in homocysteine concentration, there is no reduction in cardiovascular events. When the study was published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, the French researchers also reported that their study "does not support the routine use of these dietary supplements to prevent cardiovascular disease". Although folic acid lowers the risk factor homocysteine, "intervention studies were unable to demonstrate a reduction in cardiovascular events through therapy with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid," emphasized Prof. Diener. (fp)
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