Daily vitamin D supplements significantly improve cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure, according to a recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Sessions in Chicago.
Also published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, this study tested the effects of vitamin D supplementation on heart failure—a chronic condition that occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Since many patients with heart failure have low vitamin D levels, researchers continue to explore the impact of vitamin D supplements on outcomes. However, findings have been mixed.
To help settle the issue, researchers conducted the VINDICATE trial (Vitamin D Treating Patients with Chronic Heart Failure), which included 229 patients with chronic heart failure and vitamin D deficiency. Patients were randomly assigned to take daily vitamin D3 supplements (40000 iu) or inactive placebo pills for one year. At the start of the study, participants completed six-minute walking tests to evaluate exercise ability. They also underwent echocardiograms, which assess how well the heart pumps blood with each heartbeat. Tests were then repeated after one year to see if there were any changes in outcomes.
After analysis, researchers found there was no difference in exercise ability between the vitamin D and placebo group. However, participants taking vitamin D supplements had significantly better cardiac function than those taking the inactive placebo. Researchers also found that there was no increase in complications among patients taking vitamin D supplements, suggesting that supplements are safe for patients with heart failure.
Findings are encouraging, as protecting heart function is a major goal for heart failure treatment. In general, the better the heart works, the better quality of life and outcomes will be. With more than 5 million Americans currently living with heart failure, improving treatments and outcomes is paramount. However, authors also note that more research is needed to determine whether improved heart function from vitamin D supplements actually translates to better outcomes for heart failure patients.