Researchers from Ninewells Hospital, in Dundee, United Kingdom report no benefit from vitamin D in their patients.
First, the details.
Participating elderly patients had systolic heart failure, with 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels less than 50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL).
Normal range is 30 to 74 ng/mL.
They were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
100 000 U of oral vitamin D2 at the start of the study and 10 weeks
Outcomes measured through 20 weeks were 6-minute walk distance (measures exercise capacity), quality of life, daily activity measured by accelerometry (monitoring human movements), B-type natriuretic peptide (heart stress), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (inflammation).
Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.
And, the results.
Participants in the vitamin D group increased their vitamin D levels significantly compared to placebo at 10 weeks (23 vs 2 nmol/L [9 vs 1 ng/mL]) and maintained this increase at 20 weeks.
The distance walked in 6 minutes didn’t improve in the vitamin D group relative to placebo.
No significant benefit was seen in function, daily activity, or tumor necrosis factor.
Quality of life worsened significantly in the treatment group relative to placebo.
B-type natriuretic peptide decreased significantly in the treatment group relative to placebo (-22 versus +78 pg/mL) at 10 weeks.
The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Vitamin D supplementation did not improve functional capacity or quality of life in older patients with heart failure with vitamin D insufficiency.”
A valid conclusion considering the objectives of the study. One could argue however, that the vitamin D dose or duration of the study might have affected the results.
It’s interesting that vitamin D supplementation in these elderly patients with heart disease was associated with lower B-type natriuretic peptide. BNP is a well-known marker of dysfunction in the left ventricle and heart failure. Lower levels mean that objectively, these patients experience a beneficial effect on their heart from vitamin D supplementation.
Would following these patients beyond 20 weeks have eventually revealed symptomatic improvement?
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.