The researchers drew data from the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), a study that assessed the effect of ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) chelation and oral multivitamin supplementation on participants who recently experienced a heart attack.
The present study included only the participants who were not on statins in order to examine the effect of the high-dosage multivitamin specifically formulated for TACT. Of the 460 participants, 224 were randomly assigned to take the multivitamin while 236 were assigned to take a placebo over the course of five years.
Results suggested that patient outcomes may improve upon taking the TACT multivitamin. According to the researchers, 36 percent of the placebo group died from an all-cause death or suffered a heart attack, stroke, coronary revascularization, or hospitalization for angina. Meanwhile, only 23 percent of the vitamin group suffered any of those events.
"High-dose oral multivitamin and multimineral supplementation seem to decrease combined cardiac events in a stable, post-MI population not taking statin therapy at baseline," wrote the team.
The TACT supplement contains numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and niacin. Vitamin C helps lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk. Meanwhile, niacin, or vitamin B3, can lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol levels, as well as improve levels of high-density lipoprotein or "good" cholesterol. Niacin is considered the "granddaddy of cholesterol-lowering" medications – it is the first to reduce cholesterol levels (1955), the first to lower the risk of heart attack (1984) and the first to decrease long-term mortality rate (1986).
The findings of the study come as research recently cast doubt upon the effectiveness of statins.
One study found that about half of 160,000 patients in the UK do not respond well to statins. The researchers explained that the drugs failed to reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol by at least 40 percent. This is the treatment response considered adequate in national guidelines.
In another study, researchers argued that the ability of statins to prevent cardiovascular events has been exaggerated. They analyzed findings from statin trials and concluded that these studies created the illusion that statins are wonder drugs. In reality, the researchers noted, their modest benefits are outweighed by their adverse effects.
For example, one trial reported a 54 percent reduction in heart attacks when the actual effect in terms of absolute risk was less than one percent. That's because the study only reported the relative risk reduction after participants took the drug.
They pointed out that media and pharmaceutical companies often elide the nuances in the data, fueling the public's interest in drugs such as statins.
"The reality, however, is that statins actually produce only small beneficial effects on cardiovascular outcomes, and their adverse effects are far more substantial than is generally known," wrote the researchers.
They posited that one such adverse effect may be an increased risk of cancer. For instance, one long-term study found that the incidence of breast cancer dramatically increased in women who used statins for more than 10 years. (Related: Statin scam worsens cardiovascular disease epidemic.)
Alternatives to statins such as multivitamin supplementation become even more important in light of these findings. More scientists who will pursue this track of research are needed.
HeartDisease.news has more on safe alternative options for preventing heart attack.