ANN ARBOR, Mich. Strong bones, a healthy immune system, protection against some types of cancer: Recent studies suggest there's yet another item for the expanding list of vitamin D benefits. Vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," keeps the heart, the body's long-distance runner, fit for life's demands.
University of Michigan pharmacologist Robert U. Simpson, Ph.D., thinks it's apt to call vitamin D "the heart tranquilizer."
In studies in rats, Simpson and his team report the first concrete evidence that treatment with activated vitamin D can protect against heart failure. Their results appear online ahead of print in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology.
In the study, treatments with activated vitamin D prevented heart muscle cells from growing bigger the condition, called hypertrophy, in which the heart becomes enlarged and overworked in people with heart failure. The treatments prevented heart muscle cells from the over-stimulation and increased contractions associated with the progression of heart failure.
About 5.3 million Americans have heart failure, a progressive, disabling condition in which the heart becomes enlarged as it is forced to work harder and harder, making it a challenge even to perform normal daily activities. Many people with heart disease or 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," says Simpson, a professor of pharmacology at the U-M Medical School. "We think vitamin D retards that progression and protects the heart."
The U-M researchers wanted to show whether a form of vitamin D could have beneficial effects on hearts that h
|Contact: Anne Rueter|
University of Michigan Health System