Vitamins Can’t Stop Heart Trouble Return

Heart attack patients taking high dose vitamins do not lower risk of recurring cardio troubles

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Vitamins may energize a person and even help fight heart disease, according to some studies. For heart attack patients, however, high-dose vitamins may not stop the return of cardio problems.

There’s mixed evidence that taking vitamins can reduce the risk of having a heart attack.

A new study found that heart attack patients who were given a combination of vitamins and minerals did not appear to have a reduction in recurrent cardiac problems.

Vitamins and minerals, however, may give a slight boost to EDTA chelation—a controversial therapy to remove heavy metals from the blood in order to treat coronary disease.  

"Tell your pharmacist about any vitamins you are taking."

Gervasio A. (Tony) Lamas, MD, principal investigator and chief of the Columbia University Division of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Florida, led the research, which looked at information on 1,708 patients who had had heart attacks.

Participants were from the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Since 1956, alternative medicine practitioners have used EDTA chelation to treat cardiovascular disease. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found 111,000 adults, 18 years of age and older used chelation therapy as a form of complementary medicine in the previous 12 months.

Chelation is basically a chemical reaction involving a protein structure binding a metal element. EDTA (ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid) is a synthetic amino acid, which binds to certain minerals and metals, including calcium, lead and cadmium.

Chelation therapy requires multiple intravenous infusions of this weak synthetic amino acid, which, in theory, removes arterial plaque.

Previous results from TACT suggest that chelation treatment provided a modest reduction in cardiac events compared to a placebo treatment. These events included recurrent heart attack, stroke, hospitalization for angina and death.

Patients in this study were divided into a total of four groups. First, 839 patients received chelation and 869 were put in a chelation placebo group (so they were not receiving the active therapy). Then patients in each group were separated into those  receiving high-dose oral vitamins and minerals or those receiving placebo.

Chelation therapy required 40 intravenous treatments (or placebo), each lasting about three hours, over about a year and a half.

“The chelation therapy was an arduous regimen,” Dr. Lamas said.

To see the effects of vitamins and minerals, all participants were also assigned to take three pills twice daily, which contained either high-dose vitamins and minerals or placebo. Vitamins help the process your body uses to get or make energy from the food you eat, according to MedlinePlus.

After an average follow-up of more than four years, scientists did not observe any significant benefit for people who took the daily high-dose vitamins/minerals without the active chelation therapy.

“We did not see a significant benefit of vitamins alone for patients who had a heart attack,” said Dr. Lamas.

“Interestingly, patients who received both high-dose vitamins and active chelation compared to placebo of both appeared to have additional benefit, but more research is needed to understand the results.”

The authors said the analysis of the four study groups showed the active/active arm had 108 (26 percent) events and the placebo/placebo arm had 139 (32 percent) events—a statistically significant difference.

A spokesperson for Mount Sinai Medical Center told dailyRx News these are preliminary results from the vitamin component of the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy. Study manuscripts are currently under peer review.

The study was present at the American College of Cardiology’s 2013 Scientific Sessions in March. The trial was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute as lead agency, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as co-sponsor.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 15, 2013
Last Updated:
March 17, 2013