Vitamin D Deficiency May Increase Risk of
Stroke, Heart Disease, Death
A study by researchers at the Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, suggests that vitamin D contributes to a strong and healthy heart — and that inadequate levels of the vitamin may significantly increase the risk of stroke, heart disease and death, even among people who never had heart disease.
The researchers found that patients with very low levels of vitamin D were
- 77% more likely to die,
- 45% more likely to develop coronary artery disease,
- 78% more likely to have a stroke and
- twice as likely to develop heart failure
compared with patients whose levels were normal.
A wealth of research has already shown that vitamin D is involved in the body’s regulation of calcium, which strengthens bones, and that deficiency of the vitamin is associated with musculoskeletal disorders. Recent studies have linked vitamin D to the regulation of many other bodily functions, including blood pressure, glucose control and inflammation, all of which are important factors related to heart disease. From the results scientists postulated that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to heart disease itself.
The results were quite surprising and very important, says Heidi May, PhD, MS, an epidemiologist with the Intermountain Medical Center research team and one of the study authors.
"We concluded that among patients 50 years of age or older, even a moderate deficiency of vitamin D levels was associated with developing coronary artery disease, heart failure, stroke, and death," she says. "This is important because vitamin D deficiency is easily treated. If increasing levels of vitamin D can decrease some risk associated with these cardiovascular diseases, it could have a significant public health impact. When you consider that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America, you understand how this research can help improve the length and quality of people's lives."