A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE reports that getting enough vitamin D may help improve your chances of survival if you’re a dialysis patient in need of a parathyroidectomy.
People get parathyroidectomy (PTX) surgery when they have hyperparathyroidism and drug treatment is not effective enough. Hyperparathyroidism is a condition where the parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone (PTH), which over time, can lead to osteoporosis and increase risk of other diseases as well. Hyperparathyroidism also increases the risk of all-cause mortality by 21%.
In the present study, researchers out of Brazil looked at patients with dialysis and in need of PTX surgery. Dialysis patients commonly develop hyperparathyroidism because they are no longer able to produce activated vitamin D, which helps keep PTH in check. Thus, they get hyperparathyroidism because they can’t keep PTH levels down.
Because of the known increased risk of mortality for those with hyperparathyroidism, these researchers wanted to know if PTX surgery – which can effectively treat the condition – improved the chances of survival of people with hyperparathyroidism.
So the researchers compared people who got PTX surgery to people who were still waiting to get the surgery, to see if PTX surgery decreased mortality risk and was indeed an effective surgery. In South America, people may have to wait two years to get scheduled for an appointment, so the researchers had a unique opportunity to compare the two groups.
What they found is that those who got the surgery were more likely to survive during a mean follow-up time of 23 months.
They also found that vitamin D status predicted likelihood of survival. People who did not survive in either the PTX or non-PTX group had lower vitamin D levels than those who survived. The mortality rate for patients with levels over 30 ng/ml was 19.4%, while it was 30.7% in those who were insufficient (15-30 ng/ml) and 47.5% in those who were deficient (less than 15 ng/ml).
The researchers concluded that there is clear benefit in getting PTX for patients with dialysis and hyperparathyroidism. They also concluded that there may be some benefit in ensuring sufficient vitamin D levels for patients with the two concurrent conditions.