Doctors can predict a fatal stroke in heart disease patients if they have a low level of Vitamin D

July 30, 2008

     Researchers from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, the Medical University of Graz in Austria, and Ulm University in Germany write that Vitamin D deficiency is common among the elderly and may contribute to cerebrovascular diseases. They aimed to elucidate whether low vitamin D levels are predictive for fatal stroke.
     Their study includes 3316 patients who were referred to coronary angiography at baseline between 1997 and 2000; Coronary angiography is an X-ray examination of the blood vessels or chambers of the heart. The test is given by a cardiologist to patients who have symptoms of coronary artery disease (chest pain, sudden cardiac arrest). Vitamin D values were measured in 3299 and 3315 study participants, respectively. During a median follow-up time of 7.75 years, 769 patients died, including 42 from fatal strokes (ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes). When comparing levels of fatal stroke victims with survivors the odds for developing a fatal stroke was 42% greater in those with lower values for Vitamin D than those with high levels of Vitamin D in their blood.
     After adjustment for several possible confounders, these odds ratios remained significant for 25(OH)D at 37% increased risk and for 1,25(OH)2D at 38% increased risk. Low levels of 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D are independently predictive for fatal strokes, suggesting that vitamin D supplementation is a promising approach in the prevention of strokes. The study appears online ahead of print in the July 17th, 2008 issue of the journal Stroke.