Cardiology Pharmaceuticals

SPORT: Statins Obliterate OTC Heart Supplements

Rosuvastatin 5 mg daily lowered LDL-C levels more than fish oil, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, red yeast rice, and placebo in those with increased 10-year risk for ASCVD, according to a recent study presented at AHA 2022. 

Over-the-counter heart supplements claim to fight cholesterol and promote heart health, and many Americans subscribe to the hype. The study’s lead author Luke Laffin, MD explained that 75% of Americans take at least one dietary supplement, and 18% percent take a supplement to promote heart function. 

Laffin’s findings challenge the multibillion dollar industry. 

In the study, researchers looked at data from 200 adults with no history of cardiovascular disease, but who had a 5-20% risk of developing ASCVD within 10 years. Researchers randomly assigned participants to one of eight groups: placebo, rosuvastatin (5 mg), fish oil (2400 mg), cinnamon (2400 mg), garlic (with 5000 mcg of allicin), turmeric (3500 mg), plant sterols (1600 mg), and red yeast rice (2400 mg). 

LDL-C levels decreased in the following groups at 28 days: 

  • Rosuvastatin: -38%
  • Placebo: -2.6%
  • Fish oil: -3.4%
  • Turmeric: -1.3% 
  • Plant sterols: -4.37%
  • Red yeast rice: -6.5%

LDL-C levels actually increased in people taking these supplements: 

  • Cinnamon: +0.4%
  • Garlic: +5.1%

The Takeaway 

Six widely used dietary supplements promoted for improving heart health – including brands of fish oil, cinnamon, garlic, and turmeric – were not as effective as rosuvastatin at lowering LDL cholesterol. Statins are still the cholesterol kingpin. As cardiologists have been saying for decades (and as they made clear on twitter), supplements cannot take the place of an effective statin. 

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