More Severe Heart Disease Found in Patients with
Vitamin D Deficiency
Lower levels of vitamin D predict extent of coronary
artery disease; diet rich in vitamin D and moderate exercise outdoors
March 27, 2014 - A low level of vitamin D is an
independent risk factor for heart disease. It not only increases the
odds of developing coronary artery disease, it also seems to be
associated with more severity of the heart disease, according to research
being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual
On the flip side, their seems to be a growing body
of research showing that vitamin D may be beneficial in preventing heart
disease. Several recent studies also support the idea that low levels of
vitamin D are linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
It is still not clear, however, whether adding
vitamin D supplements may help reduce that risk, the researchers say.
In the largest study of its kind to evaluate the
relationship between vitamin D levels and coronary artery disease,
vitamin D deficiency (20ng/mL) was observed in 70.4 percent of patients
undergoing coronary angiography an imaging test used to see how blood
flows through the arteries in the heart.
Vitamin D deficiency was associated with higher
prevalence of coronary artery disease, with a 32 percent higher
occurrence in patients with the lowest vitamin D levels and a near 20
percent higher frequency of severe disease affecting multiple vessels.
A progressive increase in heart disease was found
according to the severity of vitamin D deficiency. Patients with values
lower than 10 mg/dl had a near two-fold increased rate of coronary
atherosclerosis as compared with those showing normal levels.
Researchers evaluated vitamin D levels in 1,484
patients. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as levels lower than 20ng/mL,
and severe vitamin D deficiency was defined as levels under 10ng/mL.
Patients were considered to have coronary artery
disease if they had a diameter reduction of greater than 50 percent in
at least one coronary artery. The extent and severity of heart disease
were measured by quantitative coronary angiography a procedure that
determines the degree of blockage in arteries.
"Present results suggest vitamin D deficiency to be
the cause rather than the consequence of atherosclerosis," said Monica
Verdoia, M.D., specializing cardiologist at the Department of
Cardiology, Ospedale Maggiore della Caritΰ, Eastern Piedmont University
in Novara, Italy, and investigator on the study on behalf of the Novara
Atherosclerosis study group by Prof. Giuseppe De Luca.
"Although evidence of benefits with vitamin D
supplementation in cardiovascular outcomes are still lacking, strategies
to raise endogenous vitamin D should probably be advised in the
prevention of cardiovascular disease."
Diet reach in vitamin D, moderate outdoor
A diet rich in vitamin D and moderate exercise
outdoors should be advised in both patients with and without
cardiovascular disease, Verdoia said. Vitamin D acts as a regulator on
the function of the immune system as well as inflammatory processes that
contribute to risk factors for heart disease, she said.
Vitamin D Levels a Risk Factor for Pneumonia in Older People
April 30, 2013 - A
University of Eastern Finland study showed that low serum
vitamin D levels are a risk factor for pneumonia. The risk of
contracting pneumonia was more than 2.5 times greater in
subjects with the lowest vitamin D levels than in subjects with
high vitamin D levels. The results were published in Journal of Epidemiology and
The follow-up study
carried out by the UEF Institute of Public Health investigated
the link between serum vitamin D3 and the risk of contracting
pneumonia. The study involved 1,421 subjects living in the
Kuopio region in Eastern Finland.
The results showed that
during the follow-up, subjects with vitamin D3 levels
representing the lowest third were more than 2.5 times more
likely to contract pneumonia than subjects with high vitamin D3
The risk of contracting
pneumonia also grew by age, and was greater in men than women.
At baseline, the mean serum D3 concentration of the study
population was 43.5 nmol/l, and the mean age of the study
population was 62.5 years.
Earlier research has
shown that vitamin D deficiency weakens the immune system and
increases the risk of mild respiratory infections. This
University of Eastern Finland study was the first one to
establish that vitamin D deficiency also increases the risk of
contracting pneumonia in the ageing general population.
The recommended daily
intake of vitamin D in Finland is 20 micrograms for those over
60 years of age.
Verdoia said the importance of the study is to
provide deeper insight into stratification tools for assessing the risk
of coronary artery disease in a real world population, where vitamin D
deficiency has a dramatic prevalence.
She stresses the need to make
funding a priority in the research on vitamin D in cardiovascular
prevention. The research team plans to proceed with clinical trials
evaluating the treatment of vitamin D deficiency and to investigate the
mechanisms by which vitamin D can influence the development of
Researchers estimate that more than half of U.S.
adults are vitamin D deficient, with the highest rates among African
Americans and Hispanics. Vitamin D is being studied for its possible
connection to several diseases and health problems, including diabetes,
high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune conditions, bone
disorders and some types of cancer.
A limitation of the study is that researchers did
not evaluate the long-term outcomes for study patients, so it is unknown
whether those with lower vitamin D levels experienced a higher rate of
recurrent events or a quicker progression of the coronary disease,
although other studies have suggested this is the case.
The ACC's Annual Scientific Session brings together
cardiologists and cardiovascular specialists from around the world each
year to share the newest discoveries in treatment and prevention. Follow
@ACCMediaCenter and #ACC14 for the latest news from the meeting.
The American College of Cardiology is a nonprofit
medical society comprised of 47,000 physicians, surgeons, nurses,
physician assistants, pharmacists and practice managers. The College is
dedicated to transforming cardiovascular care, improving heart health
and advancing quality improvement, patient-centered care, payment
innovation and professionalism. The ACC also leads the formulation of
important cardiovascular health policy, standards and guidelines. It
bestows credentials upon cardiovascular specialists, provides
professional education, supports and disseminates cardiovascular
research, and operates national registries to measure and promote
quality care. For more information, visit
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