Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

New insights into vitamin D and cardiovascular disease link

09 March 2012
Clinicians at the at the Department of Geriatric Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Beaumont Hospital have carried out a review which reveals new insights into the evidence linking Vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease.


Dr Cora McGreevy and Professor David Williams authored the paper which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine Their review shows that emerging evidence indicates that a lack of vitamin D is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Approximately 10,000 people die each year in Ireland from cardiovascular disease - including coronary heart disease, stroke and other circulatory diseases (1).

However, there is no clear evidence to indicate that providing vitamin D supplements to patients has a role to play in the prevention of heart disease.

Dr Cora McGreevy Prof David Williams
Dr Cora McGreevy and Professor David Williams, Department of Geriatric Medicine at RCSI and Beaumont Hospital

To date there have been a few randomised controlled trials to evaluate the effect of vitamin D replacement on cardiovascular problems, but the results have been inconclusive or contradictory.

Dr McGreevy and Professor Williams concluded that further large-scale studies are needed to prove that vitamin D supplementation has a role in protecting people from cardiovascular disease. Until further research is complete, vitamin D cannot be recommended as a treatment for preventing heart disease.

Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent worldwide with Northern European countries such as Ireland among those most affected due to low levels of sunlight at these latitudes in winter. Ultraviolet B light from the sun is essential for the manufacture Vitamin D in the body. Other risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency include advanced age and being institutionalised or home-bound.

 

(1) Source: Irish Heart Foundation