man with heart placed over chest
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 10, 2024 ·  4 min read

Vitamin D May Help Prevent Heart Attacks, New Evidence Shows

We know that vitamin D is good for our bodies, but whether or not taking it as a supplement on top of a diet has any real health benefits has long been debated. The latest study on the issue suggests that such supplements can reduce heart attack risk.1

The study, led by epidemiologist Rachel Neale from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, is the second-largest study yet to look at vitamin D supplements and cardiovascular disease risk. It involved 21,302 patients aged between 60 and 84, making it a significant step in understanding the relationship between the vitamin and heart health.

While the study does not provide conclusive evidence of cause and effect, it does show that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events, particularly in individuals taking statins and other heart disease drugs. This finding opens the door for further research to be done to analyze the relationship in more detail.

In the study, participants were given either a vitamin D supplement or a placebo for up to five years. At the end of the trial, around 80 percent of those in the vitamin group were still taking their supplements. The results showed that in the vitamin group, 6 percent of participants experienced a major cardiovascular event, compared to 6.6 percent of participants in the placebo group. Specifically, the rate of heart attacks was 19 percent lower in the vitamin D group.

It is worth noting that the study also found a greater benefit from vitamin D supplements for those who were already taking statins or other heart health drugs at the start of the trial. This finding suggests that individuals with a higher risk of cardiovascular events may experience more benefits from supplementing with this vitamin.

However, it is important to remember that no one should start taking vitamin D supplements for their heart without consulting a doctor, especially older individuals with other conditions already. While the study indicates a potential link between vitamin D supplementation and a lower heart attack risk, further research needs to take place to establish the effectiveness and safety of such supplements.

Study Details and Statistical Analysis

The study included a total of 21,302 participants, with a median intervention period of five years. Out of these participants, 1336 experienced a major cardiovascular event, with 699 (6.6%) in the placebo group and 637 (6.0%) in the vitamin D group.2

The analysis reveals that the rate of major cardiovascular events is lower in the vitamin D group when put against the placebo group, with a hazard ratio of 0.91 (95% confidence interval 0.81 to 1.01). This difference was more significant among participants who were already taking cardiovascular drugs at the beginning of the trial, indicating a potential interaction between supplementation and these medications.

The study also found a lower rate of myocardial infarction (heart attack) and coronary revascularization in the vitamin D group but no significant difference in the rate of stroke.

While the absolute risk difference was small, the study suggests that vitamin D might reduce any major cardiovascular events. The number needed to treat to avoid one major cardiovascular event was 172. These findings provide a basis for further evaluation of the role of vitamin D supplementation, particularly in individuals taking drugs for dealing with cardiovascular disease.

Implications and Recommendations

The D-Health Trial, conducted by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, has found preliminary evidence suggesting that vitamin D supplements may reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, in individuals aged over 60.3

While the findings are inconclusive, they warrant further investigation, especially for patients who take heart disease medications such as those used to treat high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The trial, which involved more than 21,000 Australians aged between 60 and 84, aimed to establish the potential role of vitamin D in preventing various diseases.

Lead author Professor Rachel Neale emphasizes that these results do not statistically prove the benefits of vitamin D supplementation, but they highlight the need for further research and evaluation. Previous randomized controlled trials have not consistently shown that taking supplements benefits cardiovascular outcomes, making the findings of the D-Health Trial significant and encouraging for future studies.

It is important for consumers to make informed decisions about taking vitamin D supplements, considering both the potential benefits and costs. The study team recommends that individuals aged over 60 with existing conditions consult with their doctors before starting any supplementation.

In conclusion, the latest study on vitamin D supplementation and heart health suggests a potential link between the two. While the findings are not definitive, they provide a basis for further research into the effectiveness and safety of vitamin D supplements in reducing the risk of cardiovascular events. Individuals should consult their doctors before considering any supplementation, especially if they have underlying health conditions.

Keep Reading: Massive Study Shows Vitamin D Supplements May Help Fend Off Dementia

Sources

  1. Common Vitamin May Help Prevent Heart Attacks: New Evidence.” Science Alert. David Nield. July 10, 2023.
  2. Vitami n D supplementation and major cardiovascular events: D-Health randomised controlled trial.” BMJ. Bridie Thompson, et al. June 28, 2023.
  3. Trial finds vitamin D supplements could prevent heart attacks in over 60s.” QIMR Berghofer