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Having a low level of vitamin D increases your risk of sudden cardiac death

Nov 19, 2008

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with heart dysfunction, sudden cardiac death, and death due to heart failure, German researchers from the University of Heidelberg report.
An association between vitamin D deficiency and heart trouble is plausible, the researchers note; vitamin D is known to affect contractility of the heart.
The scientists assessed vitamin D levels in 3,299 patients who were referred for coronary angiography - a test used to look for clogged heart arteries before 2000. The subjects were then followed for 7.7 years. Over the 7.7 year span 116 patients died from heart failure and 188 from sudden cardiac death.
In analyses taking into factors that might influence the results, they found that severe vitamin D deficiency, compared with optimal vitamin D levels, was associated with nearly a three-fold increased risk of death from heart failure and about a five-fold increased risk of sudden cardiac death. The study is published in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Low vitamin D linked with high blood pressure

Lower blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a value that provides an accurate measure of vitamin D in the blood, are independently associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure. Studies have shown that the level of 25(OH)D is  associated with lower blood pressure. To substantiate the connection researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston conducted a study of 1484 healthy women from the second Nurses' Health Study. Cases were compared with a placebo group with a similar age, race and other features. The subjects' average age was 43 years.
Compared to women with the highest 25(OH)D levels, those with the lowest levels had a 66 percent increased risk of having high blood pressure. According to the authors of the study “If this association is causal, then vitamin D deficiency may account for 23.7 percent of all new cases of high blood pressure developing among young women every year." The study is published in the November 2008 issue of the journal Hypertension.

New research shows that Vitamin D is activated in the lungs and that it causes the lungs immune system to recognize, hunt and kill microbes

Up until now it was believed that Vitamin D was only metabolized into its active form in the kidneys. New research shows that it is also activated in the lungs. Activation is essential for the utilization of the vitamin in the body. "The more scientists have been studying vitamin D, the more we learn about new roles it plays in the human body," stated the lead author of the study Sif Hansdottir, MD, of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. "The active form of vitamin D is known to affect the expression of more than 200 genes, so we were interested both in the possible lung-specific production of active vitamin D and in vitamin D-dependent production of proteins that fight infections."
The doctors discovered that Vitamin D is turned on in the lungs’ airways. "The next step was to investigate whether this active form could affect the expression of genes."
The team found that activated vitamin D increased the expression of a gene that controls the production of cathelicidin. Cathelicidin destroys bacteria. Vitamin D also turned on the gene CD14 which produces a protein that assists cells in their recognition of potentially threatening pathogens. "Vitamin D not only increases proteins involved in bacterial killing but also can dampen inflammation," Dr Hansdottir added. "Controlling inflammation through vitamin D is good because too much inflammation can cause problems such as sepsis and seems to contribute to autoimmune disease."

The study is published in the November 15, 2008 issue of the Journal of Immunology.