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Low Vitamin D Could Raise Death Risk
Date:6/23/2008

Study is among the first to show such an effect from a nutrient, experts say

MONDAY, June 23 (HealthDay News) -- People with heart disease and low levels of vitamin D may be at increased risk of dying from all causes and particularly from cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.

Some 50 percent to 60 percent of older people in North America and the rest of the world have insufficient levels of vitamin D. The same is true for younger people. Low levels of vitamin D -- which can be sourced from sunlight exposure or supplements -- have been associated with falls, fractures, cancer, immune dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure, researchers report. Now, a new study links insufficient vitamin D with the risk of dying.

"This is a very important study that shows low vitamin D, and low vitamin D hormone levels, are associated with cardiovascular mortality and mortality itself in a population of patients with coronary heart disease," said Robert U. Simpson, a professor in the department of pharmacology at the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He was not involved in the study.

"This study supports the current interest in raising the minimum daily requirement for vitamin D and encouraging greater surveillance of vitamin D status in the general population and specifically heart disease patients," Simpson said.

The report was published in the June 23 edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In the study, Dr. Harald Dobnig, from the Medical University of Graz in Austria, and colleagues collected data on vitamin D levels among almost 3,300 patients undergoing angiography.

After more than seven years of follow-up, 737 patients had died, 463 of them from cardiovascular disease.

Dobnig's team found that death rates from any cause, and from cardiovascular disease, were higher among people with the lowest levels of vitamin D.

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