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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Can vitamin D improve the severity of congestive heart failure?

I will always remember a young man I treated when I was a general practitioner in West Virginia. He was a coal miner working on the day shift before he got sick. For unknown reasons he developed cardiomyopathy and was in congestive heart failure (CHF). Nothing the cardiologist or I did seemed to stop his slow deterioration. He eventually died of idiopathic cardiomyopathy at age 26 leaving a wife and two young children. Today, he would have had a heart transplant. But why did his heart fail?

Despite the advances in understanding the pathophysiology and treatment, CHF still has a poor prognosis. Only 35% of patients will survive 5 years. In the USA, heart failure is much higher in those with darker skin, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Emergency room visits for CHF peak in December and are at their lowest in August.

You may remember the amazing randomized controlled trial of vitamin D in infant heart failure.

Infant heart failure and vitamin D supplementation. Posted on February 28, 2012 by John Cannell, MD

Recently, Doctor Ahmad Amin and colleagues, working under the supervision of senior author Doctor Maryam Ardeshiri, studied vitamin D in congestive heart failure.

Amin A, Minaee S, Chitsazan M, Naderi N, Taghavi S, Ardeshiri M. Can Vitamin D Supplementation Improve the Severity of Congestive Heart Failure? Congest Heart Fail. 2013 Mar 21.

In an open trial, they gave 100 patients with congestive heart failure 50,000 IU/week of D3 for 2 months followed by 50,000 IU/month for two months. Fifty-five of the 100 patients had what my patient had, cardiomyopathy. All the 100 patients had vitamin D levels less than 30 ng/ml to begin.

After supplementation, 25 (OH) D only increased by 17 ng/ml. Mean 25(OH)D levels went from 5 ng/ml to 22 ng/ml. Vitamin D supplementation decreased mean serum parathyroid hormone concentrations by 36.73 ng/L (P<.001). Surprisingly, they also found a 1.44-mg/dL decrease (not increase) in serum calcium (<.001). A marker of inflammation, high sensitivity C-reactive protein, decreased from 17 to 11 mg/dL (P<.001).

During 12 weeks of treatment with vitamin D, mean heart failure functional class in the study population improved significantly (P<.001). Ejection fraction also improved significantly (P<.001). Exercise tolerance as measured by the six minute walk test improved significantly (P<.001). They also found a large decrease in a marker for congestive heart failure called pro–brain natriuretic peptide (proBNP) from 25080 to 1681 pg/ml. Various ultrasound measurements of the heart improved significantly.

The authors concluded:

“The results of our study indicate that an appropriate strategy of vitamin D supplementation decreases the severity of heart failure, reflected in the reduction of serum proBNP. We also demonstrated that vitamin D causes a pronounced improvement in physical capacity of patients. Moreover, vitamin D was able to suppress the concentration of high sensitivity C reactive protein. Our data provide valuable evidence for the efficacy of vitamin D supplementation in the optimal management of heart failure.”

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

One Response to Can vitamin D improve the severity of congestive heart failure?

  1. One can speculate how much more the improvement would have been had the average vitamin D levels had gone up higher than the still low 22 ng. However even at the levels attained, the results are quite striking.