Vitamin D Linked to Incidence and Progression of Cardiovascular Disease

Low levels of vitamin D can influence both the risk of cardiovascular disease and progression that the illness may take, according to a new study.

Low levels of vitamin D can influence both the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and progression that the illness may take, according to a new study.

It was previously known that vitamin D deficiency was associated with an increased risk for CVD, including high blood pressure, heart failure, and ischemic heart disease, according to Suzanne Judd, MPH, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Dr. Vin Tangpricha of Emory University. In addition, in patients who already have heart disease, low vitamin D can “increase the risk of high blood pressure or sudden death.” The new research, published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences (AJMS), shows that a lack of vitamin D also “increases the risk of developing incident hypertension or sudden cardiac death in individuals with preexisting CVD.”

According to the journal abstract in AJMS, it is not clear how increased intake of vitamin D may impact CVD outcomes. However, the researchers say that hypotheses include “the downregulation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system, direct effects on the heart, and vasculature or improvement of glycemic control.” It is not clear if taking vitamin D supplements can decrease these risks or prevent them.

Rebecca B. Costello, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, “urges rigorous scientific studies to clarify the relationship between vitamin D and cardiovascular disease, as well as other chronic diseases,” according to the release from Medical News Today.

In spite of this new research, Dr. Karl T. Weber, MD, FACP, FACC, of the University of Tennessee’s Medical Group, who wrote an article on the study that was based on information from a presentation from the Society for Clinical Investigation’s Annual Scientific Session, stated that more research is required.

"The role of nutrition in the causation, prevention, and treatment of cardiovascular diseases is largely unexplored," Dr. Weber said. "Investigator-initiated, hypothesis-driven research conducted in a mode of discovery by a multidisciplinary team of basic and clinical scientists will undoubtedly open new frontiers and pave the way by identifying simple remedies that could advance the practice of medicine."