Calcium supplements can raise heart attack risk


Daisy Sotolongo was shocked when she found out the main artery in her heart was 99-percent blocked.

"She was about to have a major heart attack because of it," said cardiologist Alan Ackermann, who calls the condition a widow-maker.

Doctors opened the blockages before that happened. Then Sotolongo found out she may have been increasing her own risk of heart attack just by trying to prevent osteoporosis.

"The doctor told me that I needed to take calcium," said Sotolongo.

A study finds oral calcium supplements, like the ones Sotolongo was taking, can increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 86 percent.

"It is a real issue that needs to be looked at," said Ackermann.

Ackermann says when taken in concentrated pill form, it could quickly raise the amount of calcium in your blood.

"The theory behind it is that when you have a rapid rise of calcium that it can promote clotting, which will give you a heart attack," said Ackermann.

He says women need to know their risk factors for heart disease and osteoporosis to determine if the supplements will help or hurt them.

"What we're advocating now is that you try to consume more foods that will give you natural calcium rather than take the oral supplements," he said.

Try non-fat dairy products like yogurt or cottage cheese. Or eat broccoli, collard greens and spinach, which are great sources of calcium.

Sotolongo is making veggies her main source of calcium, and she's lifting weights to strengthen her bones. She tells her friends to always talk to a doctor about their heart disease risk before taking calcium.

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