Oral Nutritional Supplements and Heart Disease: A Review

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The use of nutritional supplements in the treatment of cardiovascular disease is rapidly growing in the United States. Many substances are marketed with anecdotal claims of efficacy. Most have not been scientifically studied. Excitement exists in the lay press about the homocysteine hypothesis of coronary artery disease and vitamin cures. A MEDLINE search and review of papers covering the study of popular nutritional supplements were undertaken. The papers were limited to peer-review journals using patient series reports, double-blinded prospective studies, and population studies. A compendium of the available data was obtained and an analysis of each paper's methodology was done. A review of the most popular and most studied oral nutritional supplements for the treatment of heart disease demonstrated relatively few well-founded indications for the widespread application of substances with the exception of the bioflavonoids. Some modest effects for endothelial dysfunction were noted for vitamins C and E. Red wines and beers were also noted to be beneficial. The majority of substances either had no effect or were deleterious.

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