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Glucosamine Supplementation and Cardiovascular Risk

9/24/2019 1:24:55 PM
Glucosamine is a popular supplement for joint health, but emerging evidence suggests that it may also influence cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Animal studies have found that glucosamine has anti-inflammatory effects and prevents the development of atherosclerotic plaques. Cross-sectional data from human epidemiological studies have found inverse associations between glucosamine use and the risks of heart attacks and death. Prospective data on the association between glucosamine use and CVD was lacking until researchers followed patients over an average of 7 years as part of the US Biobank study.

Health questionnaire tracks use of supplements, including glucosamine

Between the years of 2006 and 2010 in the United Kingdom, more than half a million people completed a baseline health questionnaire, which included a question about supplementation with glucosamine as well as known CVD risk factors. The current analysis included 466,039 participants without CVD at baseline. Participants were followed until 2016 for the incidence of total CVD events, including coronary heart disease (CHD), CVD death, and stroke.
Overall, 19% of the study population reported glucosamine use at baseline. During the follow-up period, there were 10,204 incident CVD events. Glucosamine use was associated with a 15% lower risk of total CVD events (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.80-0.90). Glucosamine was associated with a 9% to 22% lower risk of individual subtypes of CVD events (CVD death, CHD, and stroke). These associations were independent of traditional risk factors, including age, sex, body mass index, physical activity, healthy diet, alcohol intake, smoking, and diabetes. 

Possible connection between glucosamine intake and lower risk of CVD

The associations between glucosamine use and CVD outcomes were stronger among current smokers than among former or never smokers. Although the mechanisms are not fully known, it might be that the anti-inflammatory effect of glucosamine has more effect in people with higher inflammatory stress from smoking.
This study provided the first prospective data to show that the use of glucosamine supplementation might be related to a lower risk of CVD events.
Ma H, Li X, Sun D et al. Association of habitual glucosamine use with risk of cardiovascular disease: prospective study in UK Biobank. BMJ. 2019; 365: l1628.