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Vitamin D deficiency may increase cardiovascular risk factors

January 12, 2010

A new US study suggests that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and peripheral vascular disease.

In the study, a large data base of medical records was analyzed to determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the relation of vitamin D levels to prevalence and incidents of cardiovascular risk factors and diseases, including mortality (1). The results showed that 63.6% of the 41,504 patients (averaged 55 ± 21 years old) had a vitamin D deficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin D serum concentrations lower than 30 nanograms per ml), with only minor differences according to gender or age. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with highly significant increases in the chance of developing cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, elevated lipid concentrations in blood (“hyperlipidemia”), and a vascular disease affecting the arteries outside the heart and brain (“peripheral vascular disease”). The vitamin D levels were also highly associated with coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke, as well as with incident death.

The researchers concluded that their observations have confirmed a high number of vitamin D deficient people in the general population and an association between insufficient vitamin D levels and an increased risk of developing cardiovascular risk factors and diseases. Given the ease of vitamin D measurement and readily available vitamin D supplements, clinical trials should urgently take place to determine whether these findings represent a causal association.

Experts commented that the study results indicate that vitamin D therapy could also be effective in preventing vascular events in the brain such as stroke (2). Hence, in the current clinical practice, the established and proposed multiple health benefits of vitamin D supplementation should be considered. Moreover, it should be bared in mind that patients at high risk of vitamin D deficiency itself and vitamin D deficiency-associated diseases might particularly benefit from the prevention and treatment of a poor vitamin D status.

References

  1. Anderson J. L. et al. Relation of vitamin D deficiency to cardiovascular risk factors, disease status, and incident events in a general healthcare population. The American Journal of Cardiology. 2010; 106(7):963–968.
  2. Pilz S. et al. Vitamin D Deficiency and Stroke: Time to Act! The American Journal of Cardiology. 2010; 106(11):1674.