Vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease: more information needed

Vitamin D deficiency is common in the general population. It has been linked with hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke, as well as other cardiovascular-related diseases, such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis, and endothelial dysfunction.

Yet a recent publication in The Annals of Internal Medicine  has highlighted the conflicting nature of the information available, as it relates to increased cardiovascular disease, and has called for proper prospective randomised studies.

Vitamin D deficiency, along with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some malignancies are more commonly seen in HIV infected patients compared to age-matched controls. While the mechanism for the vitamin D deficiency in HIV infection is still unclear, this deficiency has been shown to be associated with an increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

In a cross sectional study of their HIV cohort in Pennsylvania, USA, Guaraldi and colleagues showed an almost doubling (OR 1.85 CI 1.03-3.3) of diabetes mellitus in those with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml compared to those with normal levels. The authors controlled for vitamin D supplementation, sex, age, body mass index (BMI), and hepatitis C, all of which are known to effect glucose metabolism.

We urgently need prospective studies to confirm these findings and to answer the question if vitamin D supplementation will prevent these putative complications of vitamin D deficiency.

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