“Monthly Vitamin D: A Heart Attack Preventive for Over 60s”. A recently published clinical trial in The BMJ suggests intaking vitamin D supplements. This may have a positive impact on reducing the risk of major cardiovascular events, including heart attacks.
While the absolute risk difference was modest, this trial stands as the largest of its kind to date, indicating the need for further evaluation, particularly in individuals taking cardiovascular disease drugs such as statins.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) encompasses various heart and blood vessel conditions and stands as a leading cause of global mortality. With aging populations and the rising prevalence of chronic diseases, the occurrence of CVD events, such as heart attacks and strokes, is expected to increase.
Vitamin D May Prevent Heart Attacks in Over 60s
Observational studies have consistently highlighted a connection between vitamin D levels and the risk of CVD. However, randomized controlled trials have thus far failed to provide conclusive evidence that vitamin D supplementation can prevent cardiovascular events. This discrepancy may be attributed to differences in trial design that can influence outcomes.
To address this uncertainty, Australian researchers conducted the D-Health Trial between 2014 and 2020, enrolling 21,315 participants aged 60-84. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either one capsule of 60,000 IU vitamin D (10,662 participants) or a placebo (10,653 participants) orally at the start of each month for up to 5 years.
Exclusion criteria included a history of hypercalcemia, hyperparathyroidism, kidney stones, osteomalacia, sarcoidosis, inflammatory diseases, or the intake of more than 500 IU/day of vitamin D.
It Reduces the Risk of Major Cardiovascular Events
Data collected on hospital admissions and deaths were used to identify major cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, strokes, and coronary revascularization procedures aimed at restoring normal blood flow to the heart. The average treatment duration was 5 years, and over 80% of participants reported consuming at least 80% of the study tablets.
This Is Potential in Lowering Heart Attack Risk among Older Adults
Throughout the trial, 1,336 participants experienced a major cardiovascular event, with a 9% lower rate observed in the vitamin D group compared to the placebo group (equivalent to 5.8 fewer events per 1,000 participants). Specifically, the rate of heart attacks was 19% lower and the rate of coronary revascularization was 11% lower in the vitamin D group.
However, there was no significant difference in the rate of strokes between the two groups. The study also hinted at a potentially stronger effect in participants who were using statins or other cardiovascular drugs at the beginning of the trial, although these results did not reach statistical significance.
The researchers estimate that 172 individuals would need to take monthly vitamin D supplements to prevent one major cardiovascular event. They acknowledge a possible slight underestimation of events and note that the findings may not be directly applicable to other populations, particularly those with a higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
Nevertheless, given the trial’s large sample size, high retention rate, and adherence to the study protocol, along with comprehensive data on cardiovascular events and mortality outcomes, the findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation may lower the risk of major cardiovascular events. The researchers emphasize the need for further evaluation to shed light on this issue, particularly regarding individuals taking statins or other cardiovascular drugs.
Consequently, the researchers conclude that premature conclusions dismissing the effect of vitamin D supplementation on cardiovascular disease risk are unwarranted. Until further research provides clarity, the current findings warrant consideration and suggest potential benefits of vitamin D supplementation in reducing major cardiovascular events.
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Reference: Thompson, B., Waterhouse, M., English, D.R., McLeod, D.S., Armstrong, B.K., Baxter, C., Romero, B.D., Ebeling, P.R., Hartel, G., Kimlin,