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Posted: January 15, 2008

Lack of Vitamin D May Increase Heart Disease Risk

The same vitamin D deficiency that can result in weak bones now has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Framingham Heart Study researchers report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
 
“Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased cardiovascular risk, above and beyond established cardiovascular risk factors,” said Dr. Thomas J. Wang, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “The higher risk associated with vitamin D deficiency was particularly evident among individuals with high blood pressure.”
 
In a study of 1,739 offspring from Framingham Heart Study participants (average age 59, all Caucasian), researchers found that those with blood levels of vitamin D below15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) had twice the risk of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack, heart failure or stroke in the next five years compared to those with higher levels of vitamin D.
 
When researchers adjusted for traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, the risk remained significant with a 62% higher risk of a cardiovascular event in participants with low levels of vitamin D compared to those with higher levels.
 
Researchers also found an increase in cardiovascular risk with each level of vitamin D deficiency.
 
“We found that people with low vitamin D levels had a higher rate of cardiovascular events over the five-year follow-up period,” Wang said. “These results are intriguing and suggestive but need to be followed up with further study.”
 
Study participants had no prior cardiovascular disease and were tested for vitamin D status and then followed for an average of 5.4 years.
 
“What hasn’t been proven yet is that vitamin D deficiency actually causes increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Wang. “This would require a large randomized trial to show whether correcting the vitamin D deficiency would result in a reduction in cardiovascular risk.”
 
Therefore, he does not recommend physicians check for vitamin D deficiency or that those with a known vitamin D deficiency be treated to prevent heart disease at this time.
 
(Article courtesy of ConsumerAffairs.com)

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