The trace element selenium is of high importance for many of the body’s regulatory and metabolic functions. Balanced selenium levels are essential, whereas dysregulation can cause harm. A rapidly increasing number of studies characterizes the wide range of selenium dependent functions in the human body and elucidates the complex and multiple physiological and pathophysiological interactions of selenium and selenoproteins. For the majority of selenium dependent enzymes, several biological functions have already been identified, like regulation of the inflammatory response, antioxidant properties and the proliferation/differentiation of immune cells. Although the potential role of selenium in the development and progression of cardiovascular disease has been investigated for decades, both observational and interventional studies of selenium supplementation remain inconclusive and are considered in this review. This review covers current knowledge of the role of selenium and selenoproteins in the human body and its functional role in the cardiovascular system. The relationships between selenium intake/status and various health outcomes, in particular cardiomyopathy, myocardial ischemia/infarction and reperfusion injury are reviewed. We describe, in depth, selenium as a biomarker in coronary heart disease and highlight the significance of selenium supplementation for patients undergoing cardiac surgery.
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