Prescribing Advice for GPs

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Vitamins ineffective for CVD prevention

The Journal of the American Medical Association has published the results of the Physicians' Heart Study II. This study aimed to assess whether long-term vitamin E or vitamin C supplementation decreases the risk of major cardiovascular events among men.

The study recruited 14,641 male physicians in America. All were at least 50 years old and 754 had prevalent cardiovascular disease. Participants were randomly assigned to vitamin E 400IU on alternate days or matching placebo and vitamin C 500mg daily or matching placebo. The primary end point of the study was a composite of nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke and cardiovascular disease death.

The study found no reduction in risk for either treatment over a period of 8 years. Additionally there was no risk reduction in any of the individual end points that made up the primary end point.

The authors conclude that, "neither vitamin E nor vitamin C supplementation reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events".

Action: Clinicians should ensure that vitamin supplements are not prescribed or recommended for the prevention of cardiovascular events.

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