study revealed that vitamin D supplements can heal hearts
A five-year study conducted by researchers at the University of Leeds revealed that people suffering from heart disease could benefit from taking Vitamin D supplements, as the pills could help heal damage and improve overall cardiovascular function.
According to BBC News, Dr. Klaus Witte, a consultant cardiologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, and his colleagues conducted trials on 163 heart failure patients and found that using the vitamin supplement improved their hearts’ ability to pump blood throughout the body.
The findings, which were presented this week during the American College of Cardiology 65th Annual Scientific Session & Expo in Chicago, used cardiac ultrasound to measure changes in the heart function of the participants. The authors found that 80 patients who were given Vitamin D3 supplements instead of placebos experienced a 26 to 34 percent improvement.
In a statement, Dr. Witte called the findings “a significant breakthrough for patients,” noting that this is “the first evidence that vitamin D3 can improve heart function of people with heart muscle weakness” and “could make a significant difference to the care of heart failure patients.”
Experts calling for larger, longer-term studies to verify results
Normally, Vitamin D3 levels in the body are boosted through exposure to sunlight, the Leeds researchers explained. However, heart failure patients often suffer from a D3 deficiency due to the fact that they tend to be older and their bodies aren’t able to produce as much of the vitamin as younger people.
Each of the patients involved in the study were already receiving treatment for their heart failure through proven methods such as pacemakers, ACE-inhibitors, and beta-blockers, the researchers added. They were given either a Vitamin D3 supplement or a placebo for a one-year period, and their heart health was measured using a ultrasound scan (echocardiogram) to measure the amount of blood that is pumped with each heartbeat – also known as ejection fraction.
Dr. Witte and his colleagues believe that their findings indicate that regular use of vitamin D3 supplements may reduce the need for some patients to be fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a device which can detect irregular heart rhythms and use electrical shock to restore normal function. However, experts at the British Heart Foundation told BBC News that they believed longer trials would be necessary to fully measure the effectiveness of the pills.
In fact, Professor Peter Weissberg from the British Heart Foundation told the UK media outlet that despite the improvement in ejection fraction, none of the patients who received Vitamin D3 seemed to be better at exercise. He added that “a much bigger study over a longer period of time is now needed to determine whether these changes in cardiac function can translate into fewer symptoms and longer lives for heart failure patients.”