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Vitamin D levels have different effects on atherosclerosis in blacks and whites
Date:3/14/2010

ary calcium ingestion, blacks naturally experience lower rates of osteoporosis and have far less calcium in their arteries. Studies further reveal that black patients with diabetes have half the rate of heart attack as whites, when provided equal access to health care. This shows that lower levels of calcified atherosclerotic plaque in blacks are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. However, blacks in the general community have higher rates of heart attack than whites, potentially due to unequal access to medical care, Freedman said.

The research team determined the relationship between circulating vitamin D levels and arterial calcium in 340 black men and women with type 2 diabetes. Calcium can deposit in blood vessel walls forming a bone-like material called "calcified atherosclerotic plaque" and this plaque can be detected by computed tomography (CT) scans. Calcified atherosclerotic plaque is a reliable predictor of risk for heart attack and stroke. The investigators measured vitamin D levels in all study participants and then performed a CT scan to detect calcium in the heart and major arteries.

"We found that higher circulating levels of vitamin D in blacks were associated with more calcium in the artery walls," Freedman said. "This is the opposite effect of what is felt to occur in white patients and shows that the accepted "normal" range of vitamin D may be different between blacks and whites.

"Many of these study patients would be placed on supplemental vitamin D by their physicians simply because their levels were felt to be in the low range." Freedman added that physicians should use caution in supplementing vitamin D levels in blacks especially if they do not have weak bones or other reasons to take this vitamin until the effects of supplementing vitamin D on blood vessels and heart disease are better understood.

"Doctors frequently prescribe supplemental vitamin D," Freedman said. "However, we do not know
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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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