Vitamin D: New way to treat heart failure?


Washington : The list of benefits conferred by Vitamin D has just got longer. It also keeps the heart fit as a fiddle, besides developing strong bones, healthy immune system and protection against cancer, according to new research.

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In studies on rats, Robert U. Simpson and his team at the University of Michigan have reported the first concrete evidence that treatment with activated vitamin D can protect against heart failure.

Treatment with activated vitamin D prevented heart muscle cells from growing bigger – called hypertrophy – in which the heart becomes enlarged and overworked, sometimes leading to heart failure.

They also prevented heart muscle cells from the over-stimulation and increased contractions associated with the progression of heart failure.

Heart failure is a progressive, disabling condition in which the heart becomes enlarged as it is forced to work harder and harder, even for routine daily activities.

Many heart patients or those with poorly controlled high blood pressure go on to experience a form of heart failure called congestive heart failure, in which the heart’s inability to pump blood around the body causes weakness and fluid build-up in lungs and limbs.

Many people with heart failure, who tend to be older, have been found to be deficient in vitamin D.

“Heart failure will progress despite the best medications,” said Simpson. “We think vitamin D retards that progression and protects the heart.”

Simpson and colleagues have explored vitamin D’s effects on heart muscle and the cardiovascular system for more than 20 years.

Way back in 1987, when Simpson showed the link between vitamin D and heart health, the idea seemed far-fetched and research funding was scarce. Now, a number of studies worldwide attest to the vitamin D-heart health link.

The findings of the study are being published in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology.