HAMILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA. Numerous studies suggest that a high intake of vitamin E is associated with a reduced risk of developing coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis. A group of Canadian researchers (Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation Study) now report that vitamin E supplementation does not retard or reverse existing heart disease. Their study involved 2545 women and 6996 men 55 years of age or older who had been diagnosed with diabetes or cardiovascular disease (80 per cent of the participants). The participants were given 400 IU of natural vitamin E or a placebo daily for a mean of 4.5 years. At the end of the study period 772 of the 4761 patients assigned to vitamin E and 739 of the 4780 patients assigned to placebos had suffered a stroke or a heart attack or had died from cardiovascular causes. There were no statistically significant differences between the number of heart attacks, strokes or cardiovascular deaths in the vitamin E group and the placebo group. There also were no significant differences between the two groups in the number of new cases of unstable angina, congestive heart failure, complications of diabetes, cancer or death from any cause. There were no significant adverse effects of vitamin E and no increase in hemorrhagic stroke in the vitamin E group. The researchers conclude that vitamin E supplementation has no beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease progression in a high- risk population. However, they do point out that their findings might have been different if the study period had gone beyond 4.5 years, if vitamin E had been given together with other antioxidants, and if the study population had not been at high risk even before the start of the study. NOTE: This study received funding from Negma, Hoechst-Marion Roussel, AstraZeneca, King Pharmaceuticals, the Medical Research Council of Canada, the Natural Source Vitamin E Association, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.
Yusuf, Salim, et al. Vitamin E supplementation and cardiovascular events in high-risk patients. New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 342, January 20, 2000, pp. 154- 60