Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Failure Health Center

Font Size

Low Vitamin D Linked to Heart Failure Deaths

Study Also Shows Higher Risk of Hospitalization for Heart Failure Patients With Low Vitamin D Levels
WebMD Health News

Aug. 31, 2010 (Stockholm, Sweden) -- Low vitamin D levels are associated with a higher risk of death and hospitalization in people with heart failure, researchers report.

The study doesn't prove that low vitamin D levels place patients at higher risk of dying. Even if the findings are confirmed, low levels of vitamin D may be a marker for some other damaging factor.

The hope is that vitamin D supplements may be able to improve outcomes among people with heart failure, but this still needs to be put to the test.

Vitamin D is best known for helping the body absorb calcium, which restores and strengthens bone, protecting against fracture. But more and more studies suggest that low vitamin D levels are associated with the risk for a host of diseases, including certain cancers and kidney disease.

After several small studies linked low levels of vitamin D to poor outcomes in people with heart failure, Dutch researchers, led by Licette Liu, BSc, of the University Medical Center in Groningen, Netherlands, decided to start a larger study of 548 patients hospitalized with this condition.

Vitamin D and Heart Failure Patients

Patients were divided into three groups depending on their blood levels of vitamin D: low (below 29.6 nanomoles per liter), intermediate (29.6 to 43.9 nanomoles per liter), and high (above 43.9 nanomoles per liter).

Over the 18 months of follow-up, 165 patients died and 142 were hospitalized again. Those patients with the lowest vitamin D levels were 30% more likely to be hospitalized again or die than people with the highest levels. The effect of vitamin D levels held even after accounting for other factors.

The findings were presented at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology.

Anti-inflammatory Effects

No one knows exactly why vitamin D may help heart health.

But it may have anti-inflammatory effects that may help keep blood vessels healthy, Liu says.

In the study, low levels of the vitamin were associated with high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a measure of inflammation activity.

This study was not designed to show whether supplementing heart failure patients with vitamin D would improve prognosis or even if it was safe to do. Until vitamin D pills are proven to improve outcomes among people with heart failure who have a deficiency, patients should not take supplements unless prescribed by a doctor, says American Heart Association past president Clyde Yancy, MD, medical director of the Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

Today on WebMD

Compressed heart
Salt Shockers
Inside A Heart Attack
lowering blood pressure

Mechanical Heart
Omega 3 Overview Slideshow
Atrial Fibrillation Guide
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol

Compressed heart
FAQ Heart Failure
Cholesterol Confusion
Health Check
Resolved To Quit Smoking