TUESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Vitamin E supplements
don't appear to affect a healthy woman's overall risk of heart
failure one way or the other, researchers report.
"It neither increases nor decreases the risk," said study author Dr. Claudia Chae, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
This latest finding, published in the March 20 issue of
Circulation: Heart Failure, differs from previous reports of an increased risk of heart failure with the use of the supplement. However, those studies looked at the effect of the supplements in women who had heart disease or diabetes or who had suffered a heart attack.
The new study is believed to be the first to look at whether
vitamin E supplements might help healthy women avoid heart
The new study, Chae said, "adds to a pretty substantial body of
data" that does not support the use of supplements for preventing
Vitamin E has been suggested as a way to improve heart health
due to its antioxidant properties.
For the new study, Chae and her colleagues evaluated nearly
40,000 women enrolled in the Women's Health Study. Each of them
took 600 international units of either vitamin E or an inactive
placebo every other day. (An intake from food of 22 international
units, or about 15 milligrams of vitamin E per day, is the current
Institute of Medicine recommendation.)
The researchers followed the women for a decade, on average.
During that time, 220 cases of heart failure occurred. The women's
intake of vitamin E supplements did not change their risk of
developing heart failure. This finding remained true even after the
researchers adjusted for factors such as age.
Chae's team then looked at a subgroup that had a type of heart
failure known as heart failure with normal ejection fraction. It
occurs during the time when the heart is relaxing as it fills with
In this subgroup, the investigators did find that vitamin E
supplements reduced the risk of this type of heart failure by 41
percent. However, Chae said people should not make too much of this
It is one observation and involves only a subgroup. "You always
have to interpret subgroup analysis with caution," she said.
The study was supported by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and
Blood Institute, the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the Donald W.
Reynolds Foundation and the Elizabeth Anne and Karen Barlow
Corrigan Women's Heart Health Program at Massachusetts General
"This is important research," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson Cardiomyopathy Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The strengths of the research, he said, include the random
assigning of the women to take vitamin E supplements or a placebo,
and the focus on whether the vitamin supplements prevent the
development of heart disease in women who didn't have it at the
"Supplementing with vitamin E is not needed," he said, in women trying to prevent heart disease.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at
Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed. "This is another
study that [shows] vitamin E supplementation really has no
benefit," she said.
"I think the take-home message is that in a healthy population, there is no need or room or benefit for vitamin E supplements," said Steinbaum.
Women who want to ward off heart disease should turn to exercise
and other proven strategies, Steinbaum added.
Fonarow and Chae agreed that other strategies are proven.
Besides exercise, they recommend:
To learn more about heart disease prevention among women, visit
American Heart Association.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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