There is evidence for a protective role of vitamin E treatment in the prevention of heart disease. But is it for everyone?

This GISSI-Prevenzione study advises caution.

For background, The GISSI-Prevenzione trial was one of the studies that made the Mediterranean diet popular.

For this study, the effect of vitamin E on development of congestive heart failure was evaluated in more than 8000 patients who had a heart attack but no evidence of heart failure.

  • Patients were followed for 3.5 years.
  • 2.6% of these patients eventually developed heart failure, defined as hospitalization or death related to congestive heart failure.
  • Patients taking vitamin E had a nonsignificant 20% increased risk of developing heart failure.
  • Importantly, among those patients with a dysfunctional left ventricle, vitamin E treatment was associated with a significant 50% increase in heart failure.

Taking vitamin E for its heart benefits is OK. But, those with any history of heart disease should check with their doctor to be sure they do not have evidence of “left ventricular dysfunction.”

The absence of symptoms of heart failure is not enough reason to assume there is no problem with the heart. Remember, in this study, the patients had no signs or symptoms of heart failure when they started taking vitamin D.

3/9/07 10:49 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.