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Lack of Vitamin D may Increase Risk of Heart Disease

January 6, 2010

Research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, showed that adults with hypertension (high blood pressure) may be more likely to have cardiovascular problems if they also have vitamin D deficiency.

Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency1,739 adults enrolled in a long-term health study were tracked by Harvard Medical School's Thomas Wang, MD, and colleagues. Participants were 59 years old, on average, with no history of heart problems.

When their blood levels of vitamin D were checked, 28% had vitamin D deficiency, including 9% with severe vitamin D deficiency.

By the end of the study period:

  • 120 participants developed a first cardiovascular event including fatal and nonfatal coronary heart disease;
  • 28 participants had fatal or nonfatal cerebrovascular events such as nonhemorrhagic stroke;
  • 9 participants were diagnosed with heart failure; and
  • 8 had occurrences of claudication, fatigue in the legs during activity.

People with vitamin D deficiency and hypertension were about twice as likely as people without hypertension and vitamin D deficiency to have a cardiovascular event during the study. Vitamin D deficiency wasn't linked to cardiovascular problems in people who don't have hypertension.

When researchers adjusted for traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, the risk remained significant with a 62 percent higher risk of a cardiovascular event in participants with low levels of vitamin D compared to those with higher levels.

The American Heart Association recommends that healthy people get adequate nutrients by eating a variety of foods in moderation, rather than by taking supplements. Food sources of vitamin D include milk, salmon, mackerel, sardines, cod liver oil and some fortified cereals.

Vitamin or mineral supplements aren’t a substitute for a balanced, nutritious diet that limits excess calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and dietary cholesterol. This dietary approach has been shown to reduce coronary heart disease risk in healthy people and those with coronary disease.

Doctor Scott Sheldon NOHCAbout the author:
Dr. Sheldon completed his Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He specializes in Interventional Cardiology including Balloon Angioplasty, Laser, Directional Brachy Therapy, Atherectomy, Stent Placement, Rotoblator, Perepheral Intervention, Renal Stenting, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Stenting and Acute Myocardial Infarction. Dr. Sheldon sees patients in our Elyria and Sandusky offices.

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