In this subgroup, the investigators did find that vitamin E supplements reduced the risk of this type of heart failure by 41 percent. However, Chae said people should not make too much of this finding.
It is one observation and involves only a subgroup. "You always have to interpret subgroup analysis with caution," she said.
The study was supported by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and the Elizabeth Anne and Karen Barlow Corrigan Women's Heart Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.
"This is important research," said Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson Cardiomyopathy Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The strengths of the research, he said, include the random assigning of the women to take vitamin E supplements or a placebo, and the focus on whether the vitamin supplements prevent the development of heart disease in women who didn't have it at the start.
"Supplementing with vitamin E is not needed," he said, in women trying to prevent heart disease.
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed. "This is another study that [shows] vitamin E supplementation really has no benefit," she said.
"I think the take-home message is that in a healthy population, there is no need or room or benefit for vitamin E supplements," said Steinbaum.
Women who want to ward off heart disease should turn to exercise and other proven strategies, Steinbaum added.
Fonarow and Chae agreed that other strategies are proven. Besides exercise, they recommend:
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