Endocrinol Metab.  2017 Sep;32(3):339-349. 10.3803/EnM.2017.32.3.339.

Calcium and Cardiovascular Disease

  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. i.reid@auckland.ac.nz
  • 2Department of Endocrinology, Auckland District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand.


Circulating calcium is a risk factor for vascular disease, a conclusion arising from prospective studies involving hundreds of thousands of participants and extending over periods of up to 30 years. These associations may be partially mediated by other cardiovascular risk factors such as circulating lipid levels, blood pressure, and body mass index, but there appears to be a residual independent effect of serum calcium. Polymorphisms of the calcium-sensing receptor associated with small elevations of serum calcium are also associated with cardiovascular disease, suggesting that calcium plays a causative role. Trials of calcium supplements in patients on dialysis and those with less severe renal failure demonstrate increased mortality and/or acceleration of vascular disease, and meta-analyses of trials in those without overt renal disease suggest a similar adverse effect. Interpretation of the latter trials is complicated by a significant interaction between baseline use of calcium supplements and the effect of randomisation to calcium in the largest trial. Restriction of analysis to those who are calcium-naive demonstrates a consistent adverse effect. Observational studies of dietary calcium do not demonstrate a consistent adverse effect on cardiovascular health, though very high or very low intakes may be deleterious. Thus, obtaining calcium from the diet rather than supplements is to be encouraged.


Calcium; Calcium, dietary; Cardiovascular diseases; Myocardial infarction; Risk factors; Osteoporosis
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