Selenium heart disease

Low selenium levels are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Severe deficiency leads to weakened and damaged heart muscle and a type of congestive heart failure known as Keshan disease. As part of glutathione peroxidase, selenium takes part in the reduction of hydrogen peroxides and lipid peroxides. The concentration of these peroxides, in turn, affects platelet aggregation. Blood platelets of selenium-deficient people show increased aggregation, which selenium administration inhibits. Thus long-term supplementation with low doses of selenium could have a beneficial effect on the prevention of both thrombosis and coronary heart disease in people who are selenium-deficient.

Selenium heart diseaseDutch researchers studying the association between selenium status and the risk of heart attack, compared plasma, red blood cell, and toenail selenium levels and the activity of red blood cell glutathione peroxidase among 84 heart attack patients and 84 healthy people. They found lower selenium levels in all the heart attack patients. Because the toenail selenium level reflects blood levels up to one year before sampling, the results suggest that low selenium levels were present before the heart attacks, and may have played a role in their cause.

However, results from the Physicians Health Study published in 1995 do not suggest a link between selenium levels and heart attack risk. Researchers analyzed blood selenium levels in 251 subjects who had heart attacks and an equal number of healthy people, matched by age and smoking status. The results did not show significant differences.
See also Minerals and cardiovascular disease

Selenium supplements in heart disease

Finnish researchers evaluated the effect of selenium supplementation on 81 patients with heart attacks. Patients received either selenium-rich yeast (100 mcg per day) or placebo in addition to conventional drug therapy for a six- month period. During the follow-up period there were four cardiac deaths in the placebo group but none in the selenium group. There were two nonfatal heart attacks in the placebo group and one nonfatal attack in the selenium group. A small 1997 German study showed that patients who were given selenium supplements after heart attacks showed greater improvements in heart function than patients not given supplements.

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