Cholesterol-lowering effects of calcium carbonate in patients with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia.


Bell L, Halstenson CE, Halstenson CJ, Macres M, Keane WF




Arch Intern Med


BACKGROUND--In recent years, several authors have noted that oral calcium treatment was associated with a reduction in serum cholesterol level. METHODS--Calcium carbonate was examined for its ability to lower serum cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemic patients. Fifty-six patients with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia were examined in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study. Patients were treated with a low- fat, low-cholesterol diet targeted at the American Heart Association Step-1 diet for 8 weeks before and while receiving placebo or calcium carbonate (9.98 mmol [400 mg] of elemental calcium) three times daily with meals for 6 weeks. Patients were then crossed over to the alternate treatment for an additional 6-week period. RESULTS-- Compared with placebo, calcium carbonate achieved a 4.4% reduction in the low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, and a 4.1% increase in the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level. The ratio of low- density lipoprotein cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol significantly decreased by 6.5% with calcium carbonate treatment. Calcium carbonate treatment did not significantly affect blood pressure or serum levels of triglycerides, lipoprotein Apo B, or calcium. Relative urinary saturation ratios of calcium oxalate levels were unchanged during calcium carbonate therapy. Compliance with diet and treatment was excellent and no significant adverse effects were noted. CONCLUSIONS--Thus, calcium carbonate was a modestly effective and well-tolerated adjunct to diet in the management of mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia in this clinical study.