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Treatment with vitamin D is primarily recommended for improving bone health but it has been suggested for other conditions, including cardiovascular disease. However, there is a lack of convincing data showing that vitamin D improves cardiovascular health, according to background information in the study.
Observational studies have reported associations between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of cardiovascular events in chronic kidney disease patients, noted Dr. Ravi Thadhani, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.
To investigate the effects of vitamin D therapy, the researchers conducted a clinical trial involving 227 kidney patients with mild to moderate left ventricular hypertrophy -- a heart condition related to enlargement of the muscle tissue in the wall of the heart's main pumping chamber.
The vitamin D compound paricalcitol (Zemplar) was given to 115 patients while another 112 patients received an inactive placebo.
After up to 48 weeks of treatment, neither group showed improvements on measures of cardiac structure or function. Both groups also had similar rates of hospitalizations from any cause, but there were fewer hospitalizations for cardiovascular disease-related events in the vitamin D group than in the placebo group (one versus eight, respectively).
The study, published in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, was funded by Abbott Laboratories, which makes paricalcitol.
"At this time, paricalcitol cannot be recommended for patients with [chronic kidney disease]," Drs. Stefan D. Anker and Stephan von Haehling, of Charite Campus Virchow-Klinikum in Berlin, Germany, wrote in an accompanying editorial.
-- Robert Preidt
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