Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 62 percent, scientists reported in a new study.
A growing body of evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency may adversely affect the cardiovascular system. Vitamin D receptors have a broad tissue distribution in areas related to cardiovascular health, including vascular smooth muscle, endothelium, and cardiomyocytes (cells in the heart).
Consequently, researchers set out to measure vitamin D status in 1,739 subjects (mean age 59 years; 55 percent women) without prior cardiovascular disease.
Overall, 28 percent of individuals had levels less than 15 ng/mL, and 9 percent had levels less than 10 ng/mL. During a mean follow-up of 5.4 years, 120 individuals developed a first cardiovascular event. Individuals with vitamin D levels less than 15 ng/mL were 62 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular events than people with 25(OH)D levels over 15 ng/mL.
The increased risk of cardiovascular events was even greater in subjects who had both low vitamin D levels and high blood pressure (systolic and diastolic blood pressure greater than 140 and 90 mmHg). The study authors reported that subjects with hypertension had a 113 percent increased risk compared to those with normal blood pressure and higher vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D deficiency was widespread among the subjects. Although levels above 30 ng/mL are considered optimal for bone health, only 10 percent of the subjects achieved levels in this range.
The researchers concluded, “Vitamin D deficiency is associated with incident cardiovascular disease. Further clinical and experimental studies may be warranted to determine whether correction of vitamin D deficiency could contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease.”
Wang TJ, Pencin MJ, Booth SL, Jacques PF, Ingelsson E, Lanier K, Benjamin EJ, D’Agostino RB, Wolf M, Vasan RS. Vitamin D Deficiency and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. Published online before print January 7, 2008.