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Link between selenium deficiency and heart failure

Portrait martin magnusson and Amra Jujic. Photograph
Martin Magnusson, clinical WCMM fellow and adjunct professor in cardiovascular research

A research study at Lund University shows that there is an association between selenium deficiency and an increased risk of developing heart failure. The risk is twice as high for individuals with low selenium levels.

Heart failure is a common condition affecting 250 000 Swedes. In heart failure, the heart cannot pump enough blood into the body, and the disease is associated with a poor prognosis. Since the 1960s, it has been known that chronic selenium deficiency leads to an aggressive type of heart failure, primarily affecting children and young people in areas with selenium-poor soil.
– Already in 2019, our research group demonstrated that selenium deficiency is linked to a worsened prognosis in patients with established heart failure, says Martin Magnusson, cardiologist at Skåne University Hospital, adjunct professor at Lund University, and Clinical Fellow at the Wallenberg Center for Molecular Medicine.
In this current study, published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, the researchers observed that selenium deficiency is also associated with an increased risk of developing heart failure in individuals who do not have a known history of heart disease. The researchers used data from the prospective epidemiological heart failure study Malmö Preventive Medicine, which included 4,803 individuals (average age 70 years, of which 29.1 percent were women).
– The study shows an association between low selenium levels and an increased risk of developing heart failure over a follow-up period of 15 years. The risk was twice as high in the 20 percent with the lowest selenium levels, says Amra Jujic, postdoctoral researcher at Lund University and the first author of the study.
However, the researchers emphasize that they still do not know whether the selenium deficiency itself has this effect on the prognosis of heart failure or if it is the heart failure that affects selenium levels.
– Therefore, we want to investigate how patients with heart failure or individuals without heart failure would respond to treatment with selenium. This is something we intend to study in future randomized clinical trials primarily among patients with established heart failure, concludes Martin Magnusson.

This article was previously published as a press release at Lund University.

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