Glucosamine and Cardiovascular Health
While study results on supplements have been mixed so far, one supplement has been shown to potentially reduce heart disease and stroke, two of the biggest killers in the United States.
Glucosamine, a lesser known supplement that people take for arthritis, has been shown to have an unexpected positive effect on heart disease.
In a large study following 466,039 patients, those who took glucosamine had a 15% lower risk of all types of heart disease events, including heart attack, and a 9% lower risk of stroke.
For the most part, glucosamine has not been prescribed or recommended for heart health. However, with this new data, that might change soon.
Glucosamine and Heart Disease Risk
Patients taking glucosamine had a significant 18% reduction in their coronary heart disease risk, even after adjusting for age, sex, race, income, alcohol, physical activity, diet, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, and other medications.
Glucosamine also had a greater effect on fatal heart attacks compared to non-fatal heart attacks, which suggests that glucosamine may reduce the severity of heart attacks alongside preventing them.
Coronary Heart Disease
Glucosamine and Stroke Risk
When it comes to stroke, the data is less clear. But what we do know is that overall, after adjusting for potentially confounding variables, there is a significant 9% reduction in stroke risk.
After adjustment, the individual subtypes of stroke were not statistically significant. However looking at the unadjusted data, we can see some interesting patterns.
Most of the benefits for stroke were found in ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes have a mechanism that is similar to heart attack. Just like heart attacks, these are caused by blood clots blocking off blood flow to the brain, starving your brain cells of oxygen. This occurs because of atherosclerosis, the same process behind coronary heart disease.
Mechanism: Glucosamine may reduce inflammation
Since this is such a new and surprising finding, there isn’t much information yet on the mechanism. However, one of the mechanisms that the authors of the study suggested is a reduction in inflammation.
In a previous study, researchers found that those who took glucosamine had a significant reduction in their C-Reactive Protein. This is a blood biomarker for inflammation. A lower level of C-Reactive Protein suggests that patients who took glucosamine had a lower average level of inflammation in their body.
Key Takeaways & Study Weaknesses
The strength of this data is truly quite exciting and suggests that we might just have a new dietary supplement that is safe and effective for arthritis and heart disease prevention.
We rate this study as a 3/5. It had good methods and provided compelling data. However, before this is put into clinical practice, this will likely have to undergo more study to confirm whether glucosamine is responsible for the decreased risk.