Three studies of vitamin D and heart disease presented results at the American Heart Association meeting this past week in Orlando. First, Dr. Adam Gepner reported on 114 women (some with blood levels in the deficient range) randomly treated with vitamin D or placebo. They found no differences in several outcomes including blood pressure, C-reactive protein, and arterial function. Second, Dr. Karakas reported on data from 298 patients in the MONICA/KORA study showed that high vitamin D levels translated to lower heart disease in women, but the same was not seen in women. Third, Dr. Emberson reported data from the Whitehall study did find a reduction in heart events in men with higher vitamin D levels.
So what does this all mean? There is a strong possibility that some other factor associated with both vitamin D and heart disease is affecting both. Thankfully, the appropriate solution to this conundrum (a large scale randomized trial) is underway. Results of the VITAL trial are expected to be available in 2016 or 2017. In the study, patients without heart disease, stroke, or cancer will be treated with vitamin D or omega-3 fatty acids to determine the effects of those compounds on heart disease, stroke, and cancer.