J. Kyle Mathews, MD, DVM  
Male, 63
Plano, TX

Specialties: Urogynecolog, Pelvic Reconstructive Medicine

Interests: Women's Health, Bladder Diseases
Plano Urogynecology Associates
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Plano, TX
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Do Calcium Supplements Boost Heart-Attack Risk?

Sep 03, 2010 - 32 comments

A study looking at 15 randomized trials finds the use of calcium supplements without coadministered vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of heart attack.

Most guidelines for the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis recommend the use of calcium supplements, despite the fact that they reduce the risk of fracture only marginally, write Dr Mark J Bolland (University of Auckland, New Zealand) and colleagues.

Studies have yielded conflicting results about their use, with some observational studies suggesting that high calcium intake is protective against vascular disease, and others showing that calcium supplements speed vascular calcification and increase mortality in patients with kidney failure and increase cardiovascular events and MI in women.

Senior author Dr Ian R Reid (University of Auckland) told heartwire that women should discuss the finding from his study with their doctors, but that in most cases, "discontinuation of calcium would seem appropriate."

There are those that disagree with the studies findings.  In an editorial accompanying the article [3], Dr John Cleland (Castle Hill Hospital, Kingston upon Hull, UK) and colleagues wonder why calcium supplements should increase cardiovascular risk, as found in this meta-analysis. "Accumulation of calcium in the arterial wall leading to reduced compliance would be expected to take years, but the increased risk of myocardial infarction reported by Bolland and colleagues occurred early after calcium supplementation (median follow-up of 3.6 years)."

Until more becomes known about the best way to prevent osteoporotic fractures, the editorialists conclude that "patients with osteoporosis should generally not be treated with calcium supplements, either alone or with vitamin D, unless they are also receiving an effective treatment for osteoporosis for a recognized indication." They add that research on whether such supplements are needed in addition to effective osteoporosis treatment is "urgently required."

Researchers are starting to look at gender differences to see if this may be a factor.  Eighty percent of the studies participants were women.  More study is needed to determine if the current recommendations for calcium supplementation need to be revised.

J. Kyle Mathews, MD
Plano OB Gyn Associates
Plano Urogynecology Associates

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Avatar universal
by joyrider, Sep 06, 2010
My gynae recommended that I take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis. But I have stopped taking them for quite sometime now b/c these supplements gave me constipation. So the above findings gave me even more reasons not to take calcium tablets anymore.  

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by faithson, Sep 13, 2010
Our health store clerk recently took in a workshop on calcium.  He  learned that calcium supplements can be responsible for calcium deposits and bone spurs.  I had been taking coral calcium for nearly ten years and had developed calcium deposits in my shoulders and a spur on my heel and a lot of unexplainable pain in hands and feet..

My bone density was excellent for my 63 years and I wondered what to do if I quit calcium supplements.  He said to try taking silica.  Have been on the silica for 3 weeks, seems to be helping hair and nails.  Also started taking Camu Camu in hopes of getting rid of the excess calcium.  This replaced our daily Vitamin C tablet.

Still suffering pain in hands and feet.  But this article does make me feel better about quitting calcium.

Avatar universal
by grammpa2, Sep 13, 2010
J.Kyle Mathews MD,DVM What is "DVM"? Our lives, health and financial welfare is affected by the opinions of experts. I doubt most of what stock-brokers promote. Doctors are worthy of more respect but their opinions are only that. Implementation without "more study" as the article states is needed, to verify the hypothesis can be counter-productive. my years have verified need to avoid HASTE and to be CAREFUL. best of luck to all-grammpa2

Avatar universal
by billyboy56, Sep 13, 2010
DVM is Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  Draw your own conclusions and never trust just one source - especially the latest "study" headline.

Avatar universal
by castile, Sep 13, 2010
I'm disabled from the late affects of polio, and have osteoporosis, so what on earth do I do about taking or not taking calcium or the Fosamax I take once a week. Whom do I believe....the doctors doing all the research, or my own doctor whom says ignore the researchers and listen to him??

By Castile.

Avatar universal
by klsn, Sep 13, 2010
This article does not say to STOP taking calcium, unless it does not have Vit D in it. So simple take calcium with the Vit D in it. You can get this EVERWHERE.Always, always, always do not believe the first thing you read. Do your own research with reputible and trust worthy sites: Mayo lLinic, National Institue on Health, etc. And alway look at the source of your information. And always talk to your doctor before making changes to your health regimine. You should have a doctor that you have a good enough repoir with that you would believe what they know over what you see on the internet. And if not then it is time maybe for a new doctor?
Please if you have Osteoporosis do not stop taking calcium. And always know how much, is too much. Our bodies can only absorb a certain ammount of and Vitamin or mineral. And afte rthat it can become toxic in the body. So be wise and always learn about supplements, herbs, and vitamins. and how much to take, best times to take and if they can be taken with your perscription medications.

Avatar universal
by peaceisin, Sep 13, 2010
To be fair, Dr. Matthews is ALSO an MD and a DMV. And he does say to CONTINUE TO TAKE things like Fosamax if they have been prescribed for osteoporosis....the solid answer on calcium is not out there...the question of whether Vit D makes the difference or not or whether genetics is a clue.  Has to be an individual decision when research is inadequate or conflicting, using the best informed judgment... using your best knowledgs about yourself and your Doctors'.  Science is beginning to be able to show that we can have very significant differences in many ways.  Individualized answers will be the way of the future to a greater degree it hopefully appears.

Avatar universal
by interesting17, Sep 13, 2010
This is what I've heard, take it or leave it.  I've talked extensively with my dad's heart specialist (a well-known cardiologist) and he said talk the calcium regardless of being a man or a woman.  When you are a woman and you quit hormones (another thing the media docs tell you to do) they are wrong.  The heart doctors and gyno docs all say STAY ALL THE HORMONES.  My mom went off hormones and SHRUNK 3 inches.  If you have 3 inches to spare go for it.  But think about the pain in your back that's going to be caused with compressed discs when you lose even 3 inches.  My gyno told me that the tests quit too soon on heart and hormones.  Most women they tested at that age were already prone to getting heart disease.  Women in their 40's are having heart attacks.  The bypass surgeon I know said take an aspirin every day if your doctor says o.k. because aspirin prevents clotting and plaque.  I think more info needs to be done before we put everyone into a panic.  

Also the docs quoted in the study aren't even from the U.S. no offense, but until the Mayo Clinic or Harvard or another great research school chimes in, I'm not jumping the gun.  Be careful about health store quacks, where is their degree, I know there are a lot of health product people saying things they shouldn't and one day they will be sued.  They administer advice to some that say quit all your meds, etc.   Also, I spoke to my dentist who works a lot on older patients and she said that a female quit Fosamax and lost a lot of her bone (ridge) that keeps your teeth in place in your mouth.  Um, another reason not to rush going off meds.  She was very concerned about doctors taking people off calcium.  another thing, most vitamins are released in your urine so water soluable vitamins aren't too toxic, it's the other ones that aren't water soluable.  Talk to your doctor, hopefully you have a good one because there are some bad ones out there.  Lack of vitamin D leads to MS and many other neurological diseases.  Now you are supposed to take 2000 IU's a day, or at least I do.  What'a DMV?  It says DVM after his name.  Not DMV.  Hey I had a good vet once, they work just as hard!  

Avatar universal
by interesting17, Sep 13, 2010
I just read on line that soda pop can add to the breakdown on bones because of its acid content. Not sure if correct.  I did a search on this topic of calcium and heart disease and this New Zealand study is the ONLY one out there.  Again, don't just believe one place for your whole health.  It's too important.  

Avatar universal
by interesting17, Sep 13, 2010
One more question or just a comment.  How do we know these women weren't at risk of heart disease already?  Just like the hormone debate, a large percentage of woman have heart issues in their family somewhere.  Even today, I know a co-worker in his early 50's with NO blood pressure problems, extremely fit, and no family history had a MASSIVE heart attack (plaque lined arteries).    

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by J. Kyle Mathews, MD, DVMBlank, Sep 14, 2010
Good discussion.  They did try to control for factors that might place participants at risk for heart disease.  I agree that this information should be taken cautiously.  For now, moderation is probable appropriate regarding the dose of calcium being taken.  Yes the DVM does stand for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.  I am licensed in Texas but do not practice Veterinary Medicine at this time.  MedHelp included the DVM on my profile. ???

Avatar universal
by loone, Sep 15, 2010
I had a freak slip and fall accident when I was 41. I shattered my L fibula and tibula.( Both leg bones beneath L knee were shattered.) I had spiral fractures which basically meant both bones were in pieces and needed to be flushed out and I had to grow new bone over titanium rods. The team in the ER said they had never seen such a fracture in anyone under 80 years of age.My grandmother had serious osteoporosis. She lost her spinal vertebrae, fractured her wrist when getting a half gallon of milk out of frig etc.She had great health and soundness of mind except for severe pain related to bone loss, mostly in her back and was in a wheelchair. She lived to 97 but the suffering was torment. When I was 30 I started taking calcium, not sure if it had D in it or not.. that was not the rage at that time. I took between 1500 and 1800 mg each day and ate/drank foods rich in calcium. I had a bone scan done at age 42 following the accident. My bone density showed to be the bones of a 31 year old. I have of copy of the results to prove it ! So my bones were 11 years younger than my age. I am sure that the calcium was helpful. I am 55 and in excellent health. Take your calcium girls! ( Some people get bone spurs having never taken calcium!) We do need to support more research on supplements and herbal remedies. Our bodies were designed by God to be self healing given the right diet and nutrients! Oh and my Left leg.. is new and all the metal is out.. no limp.. just some baby stretch marks from all the swelling. God blessed me with a great surgeon! And God is a great healer as well!

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by J. Kyle Mathews, MD, DVMBlank, Sep 15, 2010
Just curious, Have you had a cardiac CT to see what your calcium score is?  If not, you might want to look into it.  They are usually offered by the cardiologist.  In my city, most do the test for cost.  Somewhere around $75.00.  The test gives you a calcium score based on the amount of calcium in the arteries of the heart.  Interesting test that researchers have correlated with heart disease.  However, I did see A recent article calling into question this study as well.  Might be interesting though.  jkm

Avatar universal
by cindy6714, Sep 15, 2010
I started taking Calcium with Vitamin D along with a multi-vitamin as well. I notice that I started having cramps/pain in my hands, and feet.  I was not having this problem until I started taking the Calcium, I started because my OB/GYN told me I was 50 and I need to start taking calcium supplements. This Dr knew I was already taking a medication for my heart condition STV. After the pain and cramps started I only take them once or twice a week, everyday I was in to much pain.

Avatar universal
by ellejai, Apr 27, 2011
I wonder if taking calcium alone can upset magnesium balance. This may contribute to an increased risk of cardiac problems as magnesium deficiency can be a cause of arterial spasms and heart rhythm problems, as well as muscle cramps. I've read that sudden death from M.I. is more likely if magnesium levels are low.

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by strawberryseed, Apr 27, 2011
Well, I am an advocate for Calcium/Magnesium, and vitamin D. I am a thyroidless person. I absolutely HAVE to take Calcium, with a little Magnesium, or I might as well lay down and die. I experienced unbelievable pain before I started the Cal/Mag regimen. I would jump out of bed because of cramping in my feet and legs. There was a time that I literally could not get up out of a chair because of the excruciating pain. I am a person that goes to the gym and exercise for three hours at a time, four to five days a week. So, I know what pain is. I have no idea whether the article on Calcium is correct or incorrect. I only know that if it were not for the Calcium and Magnesium, supplements that I take, my quality of life would be nil. I am also not certain whether or not I trust what doctors say anymore. I suppose, I will have to trust someone, somewhere, one day, but, you can bet that I will be picky in my choice. As someone has already pointed out, trust your instincts, and how you feel.

Avatar universal
by kaz49, Apr 29, 2011
I am 52 years old have scoliosic and degenaritive disc disesease. I do not currently have osteoperose althought I have several risck factors. Both my parents had ostiperosis and I am a small framed person. I have been recently advised by my GP to start taking calcilum and vitamin D. I have not ye,t started as I am still reserching. I have been active for many years now cycling, swimming, doing weight training and even pole dancing to maitain a good muscle to bone ratio. I would like to know what Dr Mathews advisce would be with regard my commencing suplimentation.

Avatar universal
by JerreJames, Apr 29, 2011
Have a look at our response blog to the study at www.eattosaveyourlife.com. We feel the studies reported and the meta-study reporting were flawed on a number of levels, particularly regarding what most nutritionists know well--that calcium supplements need to include not only vitamin D (referenced in the meta-study), but also magnesium, manganese, vitamin C and others. The point is that no nutritional supplement acts on its own in our bodies, at least not in the ways we want them to. See our blog for more about this and our web page under the tab Food and Supplements, then "choosing supplements". Jerre Paquette

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by LivingInHope, May 04, 2011
July 30, 2010, Fox News reported about a meta-analysis of 11 study results, published in the British Medical Journal.  They listed Reuters on the page.   Here's my report about it:

There was a phone interview of Ian Reid, who along with colleagues in Britain and the U.S. did the analysis.  The 11 studies followed close to 12,000 seniors for a 4 year period.  Half took calcium, half placebos.  Reid claimed a 30 percent increase of heart attacks in those taking the calcium versus those who took the placebos.  

Professor of medicine Reid went on to state if a thousand individuals took calcium for five years, they'd expect 14 additional heart attacks, 10 additional strokes, and an increase in deaths by 13 in those given calcium than if they hadn't taken it.  He explains calcium is linked with more bad events than with fractures prevented.  It's not clear exactly how calcium supplements do damage biologically, but past studies demonstrate high blood calcium is linked to increased numbers of heart attacks and blood vessel damage, he says.

Taking calcium supplements causes the calcium level in your blood to increase during the next 4-6 hour, clear to the top portion of the normal reference range Reid advises, but says it doesn't do that with calcium eaten in food, because it's absorbed very slowly and the blood calcium level barely shifts any.  Reid believes blood calcium that is higher might bring about plaque formation in the blood vessels, which is involved in stroke, heart attack and other diseases of the cardiovascular system.  While so much focus has been on fat in the blood, it's coming to light calcium may be another pivotal force when it comes to plaque forming.  

After looking at this report last year, I spoke with my doctor about it (they recommend that) and decreased my intake of calcium citrate to two a day (had been taking three), and I take them in separated doses, trying to make sure I'm eating some calcium rich foods.  I was found to have osteopenia a short time after my hysterectomy (I'm in my 30s) & am due to have another bone density test this summer.  I'm hoping I won't have osteoporosis after this calcium supplement reduction move, as my last density test showed I was pretty close to it already.  

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by GravesGirl, May 18, 2011
Could I ask you Surgi, how much were you taking or are taking now? 400mgs,600mgs? They usually come in 200 mgs (citrate) that is. Thanks!

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by heartfluttersflyawayplz, May 19, 2011
i to take it with vit D , this is scarey

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by LivingInHope, May 19, 2011
I take 630 mg of the calcium citrate (which is one caplet twice a day mid-day and evening).  Two of the caplets also pack in 500 IU of vitamin D.  I also still normally take a multi-vitamin each morning that adds another 220 mg of calcium in the form of calcium carbonate and dicalcium phosphate.  The multi-vitamin contains another 500 IU of vitamin D.  I've been eating Kraft cheese food and yogurt to try to do some augmenting.  

  I am concerned about my bones but I don't want to potentially give myself a heart attack, etc. either.  My heart works hard because I have postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (P.O.T.S.)... had a holter monitor recently where heart rate got up to 160.... from standing up after sleeping.  Got into the 140s other times in a 24 hour period.  And one of the big kinds of food that contains calcium- dairy products, can reak havock with GERD, if you happen to have that, as I do.  Now the dr. wants me to take Nexium and I see on tv where they are being sued because it can cause bone loss and fractures.  

I had a hospital based dietician send me at no charge to me a list of foods with calcium in them.   You might be surprised at how many foods contain calcium.  There are also a number of foods other than dairy containing calcium, including the calcium fortified variety -don't know if calcium fortified foods would affect calcium blood level or if it's absorbed slowly too.  If anyone is interested in me listing foods with calcium that the dietician sent info about, let me know.  One paper she sent me says calcium is lost through urine with high protein diets, caffeine, and high sodium diets too (cardiologist recommended high sodium diet to me after P.O.T.S. diagnosis).  And the paper says alcohol is a hindrance to calcium absorption.

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by heartfluttersflyawayplz, May 22, 2011
i would like the report you got . i also need to eat more calcium and would love not to take it in a pill. but dont want to gain weight from it either lol.  if you want i give you my fax number or you can list here . thanks

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by LivingInHope, May 23, 2011
Hi- well I got a number of things mailed to me, part of this info I'm posting was from a publication put out by the national dairy board and part from UCSF- patient education.  Yogurt seems to be the top calcium source in both their dairy food lists.  Other foods:

whole or toasted unblanched almonds- 75-80 mg of calcium for one ounce.  (Almonds as you may know are also considered heart healthy nuts.)
whole roasted sesame seeds- 280 mg for one ounce (looks like  that would be a lot of sesame seeds)
sesame tahini (never heard of it?) 130 mg for 2 Tablespoons or 1 ounce
dried sunflower seeds- 50 mg for one ounce

canned mackerel (have you seen this at your grocery store?) 250 mg for 3 ounces
pink salmon with bones in a can 167-210 mg for three ounces
sardines in oil in a can tops that with about 370 mg for 3 ounces

cooked acorn squash- 90 mg in one cup
raw arugula (what is that?) 125 mg in one cup
raw bok choy (ditto?) 40 mg in one cup
frozen, cooked chopped broccoli 47 mg in half a cup
cooked chard/okra 100 mg in one cup
raw chicory (curly endive)  (still don't know what it is?) 40 mg in a cup
frozen, cooked, and chopped collard greens 179 mg in half a cup
brine packed corn doesn't have much at just 10 mg in a cup
raw dandelion greens (I wonder how many eat those- we sure have a lot in our yard!) 80 mg in one cup
frozen, cooked, chopped kale- 90 mg in half a cup
kelp/kombe (do you eat this stuff?) 60 mg in 1 cup
mustard greens 40 mg in one cup
frozen, cooked, cut snap beans- 31 in half a cup
cooked spinach 240 mg in one cup (that sounds like a substantial amount!)
raw turnip greens 80 mg in one cup

black strap molasses 135 mg for 1 tablespoon
Another list was mailed of bioavailable calcium content in foods includes such things as pizza, goldfish crackers and life & total cereals, certain beans and tortillas, etc.- if interested, let me know.

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by LivingInHope, May 23, 2011
Besides the above, I noticed yet another list I was sent too, if interested, listing corn bread, english muffin, certain fruits and more!

Avatar universal
by judy078, May 29, 2011
I was taking a calcium-magnesium-boron supplement three times a day, which consisted of 1,000 mg. calcium daily. I have recently cut down to two per day, due to the potential risk. I also take about 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 and have had my blood levels checked while taking this amount.
However, the Institute of Medicine recommends 1000-1200 mg. of calcium per day with 600-800 IU of vitamin D. The ADA concurs. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Calcium-and-Vitamin-D/Report-Brief.aspx

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by LivingInHope, Jun 02, 2011
Hi, Judy!  Are you trying to make up the deficit of less supplement pills with dietary intake?  I had an internal med. doctor tell me to take 1000 mg of D due to osteopenia.  I believe I'm due for another bone scan in September and will be interested to find out how my bones are doing with the cut back in calcium supplements & eating calcium in my diet.

Avatar universal
by RthePhysician, Jul 06, 2011
Calcium deposits occurs in veins when reduces the elasticity of veins, lack of collagen leads to rigidity or to reduction of elasticity; vitamin-C is the main ingredient of collagen , but human being  can not convert carbohydrate to vitamin-C like animals do; so sufficient Vitamin-C intake may solve all ‘block’ problems.  

Avatar universal
by heartbroken77, Jul 09, 2011
My mother has been on ostheoporosis treatment for 10 + yrs. Calcium, Vit D ,fosamax, etc. Last week she had an open heart surgery to replace a calcified valve. Nobody would say for sure that these 2 things are related, but it certainly made me question it.

Avatar universal
by blockednose, Jul 12, 2012
A lot of foods are rich in calcium and vitamin D, including milk and yoghurt, cauliflower and brocolli have calcium and if eaten with a cheese sauce, there is more calcium.  To make healthy bones there needs to be a balance between intake of calcium, magnesium and vitamin k (which is fat soluble).  Seems a pity to risk taking supplements when a healthy diet could give you all the nutrition you need and in a more easily absorbed form, so why risk taking supplements, with all the associated side effects and risks?

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by J. Kyle Mathews, MD, DVMBlank, Jul 14, 2012
I Agee, diet is the best source, but I like so many, don't always eat right.  

Avatar universal
by curiousgeorgie49, Jun 24, 2013
So why no posts since 7/14/12?  I just signed up for this website.  What is the latest info about women and calcium and women and hormone supplements?

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