Scary side effects of calcium supplements

Florida doctor calls supplements the 'widow-maker'

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AVENTURA, Fla. - They make your bones strong, but they might be putting your heart in danger. Millions of women take calcium supplements to fight osteoporosis, now doctors have a warning about the pills you need to hear.

Dr. Alan Ackermann, a board certified cardiologist in South Florida, calls it the widow-maker.

"I just couldn't believe it," said Daisy Sotolongo, describing her reaction when she found out the main artery in her heart, was 99-percent blocked.

"She was about to have a major heart attack because of it," said Ackermann.

Doctors opened the blockages before that happened. Then Daisy found out she may have been increasing her own risk of heart attack, just by trying to prevent osteoporosis.

"The doctor told me I needed to take calcium," said Sotolongo.

A study finds oral calcium supplements like the ones Sotolongo was taking can increase the risk of heart attack by as much as 86-percent.

"It is a real issue that needs to be looked at," added Ackermann.

He says when taken in concentrated pill form, it could quickly raise the amount of calcium in your blood.

"The theory behind it is that when you have a rapid rise of calcium that it can promote clotting which will give you a heart attack," explained Ackermann.

He says women need to know their risk factors for heart disease and osteoporosis to determine if the supplements will help or hurt them. If you're prone to heart disease…

"What we're advocating now is that you try to consume more foods that will give you natural calcium rather than take the oral supplements," said Ackermann.

Try non-fat dairy products like yogurt or cottage cheese. Or get greens! Broccoli, collard greens and spinach are great sources of calcium.

Daisy's making veggies her main source of calcium, and she's lifting weights to strengthen her bones. Now, after her close call…

"I feel great," said Sotolongo.

Ackermann says natural calcium may be better for women trying to prevent osteoporosis because it's absorbed by the body more gradually. He says it's important to talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about oral calcium supplements and your risk of heart disease.

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