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UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital begins studies on vitamin D to prevent heart disease
Date:11/8/2011

CLEVELAND -- While Vitamin D is essential for proper bone health, a number of research studies have linked it to guarding against cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. It is unique among vitamins in that it is made by the body in response to sunlight but is naturally present in very few foods. Recent studies have confirmed that vitamin D deficiency is common, even in sunny states such as Florida.

People who are HIV-positive, of all ages and all races, may be at particularly high risk of having vitamin D deficiency, in part, because certain HIV medications appear to lower vitamin D levels.

University Hospitals (UH) Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital will be looking at the role of Vitamin D in preventing heart disease in children and young adults who are both HIV-positive and HIV-negative. The studies are being led by Grace McComsey, M.D., Division Chief, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Rheumatology & Global Child Health at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and a Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

"In HIV-positive populations now, we have made great strides in helping patients live productive lives with the help of medications," said Dr. McComsey. "However, we are finding that patients are experiencing higher rates of heart disease and cancer."

While children and young adults with HIV may not yet experience outward symptoms of heart disease at their age, ultrasounds are already revealing abnormal vessel thickness or plaques compared to healthy youth. These kids are at a significantly higher risk than the general population for heart disease. In adults with HIV, research has shown that the risk of heart disease rises by 26 percent for every year of treatment. For these kids who will likely be on HIV medications for decades, heart disease is an important risk.

"The large success we have had in helping them live longer through HIV medications is now threaten
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Contact: George Stamatis
george.stamatis@uhhospitals.org
216-844-3667
University Hospitals Case Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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