Heart Disease: Prevention Myths

Topic Overview

There are lots of things you can do to lower your risk for coronary artery disease. But some diets and dietary supplements do not lower risk. It's not clear if vitamins, minerals, and multivitamins can lower risk.

Talk with your doctor about the best ways to lower your risk of heart disease. By eating heart-healthy foods, most people can lower their risk and get all of the nutrients they need. Other proven ways to lower risk include being active, staying at a healthy weight, and not smoking.

Eating plans

Heart-healthy eating can help lower risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Do not use these diets to lower risk:

  • Low-carbohydrate diets. These diets could cause serious medical problems, especially if you have heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Heart Association do not recommend these diets.
  • High-protein diets. These diets limit healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. And they don't include essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The American Heart Association does not recommend high-protein diets.

Vitamins and supplements

By eating heart-healthy foods, most people can lower their risk and get all of the vitamins and nutrients they need.

It is clear that taking some vitamins and supplements do not lower risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Do not take these supplements to lower risk:

  • Beta-carotene
  • Chromium
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids
  • Garlic
  • Policosanol
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B or folic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

It is not clear if taking other vitamins, multivitamins, or supplements can lower risk. There is not enough evidence to show that they work or don't work.

Hormone therapy

Doctors used to think that hormone therapy for women could lower the risk of getting heart disease. But hormone therapy does not prevent heart disease. So experts no longer recommend this use of hormone therapy.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • American Heart Association (2006). Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006. Circulation, 114(1): 82–96. [Erratum in Circulation, 114(1): e27.]
  • Berthold HK, et al. (2006). Effect of policosanol on lipid levels among patients with hypercholesterolemia or combined hyperlipidemia. JAMA, 295(19): 2262–2269.
  • Bravata DM, et al. (2003). Efficacy and safety of low-carbohydrate diets: A systematic review. JAMA, 289(14): 1837–1850.
  • Fihn SD, et al. (2012). ACCF/AHA/AATS/PCNA/SCAI/STS guideline for the diagnosis and management of patients with stable ischemic heart disease: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines, and the American College of Physicians, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Circulation, 126(25): e354–e471.
  • Fish oil supplements (2012). The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapies, 54 (1401): 83–84.
  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2014). Vitamin, mineral, and multivitamin supplements for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsvita.htm. Accessed March 28, 2014.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Current as of April 8, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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