September 23, 2010

September 23, 2010 (San Diego, California) — Adults with very low vitamin-D serum levels in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 3) cohort showed more than triple the risk of death from heart failure over eight years compared with those with normal levels, according to a presentation last week at the Heart Failure Society of America 2010 Scientific Meeting [1].

The cohort consisted of 13 131 persons aged >35 whose levels of the vitamin-D serum marker 24-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) were obtained from 1988 to 1994 and were followed for a mean of eight years. In that time, 0.8% died from heart failure.

Of those dying from heart failure and those dying from other causes, 37% and 26%, respectively, were vitamin-D "deficient" (25[OH]D <20 ng/mL) at baseline (p<0.001).

In analyses adjusting for age, sex, race, and comorbidities, the hazard ratio for mortality in vitamin-D deficiency was 3.39 and in vitamin-D "insufficiency" (25[OH]D 20-29 ng/mL) was 2.02; both were significant at p<0.001 compared with normal levels (25[OH]D >30 ng/mL).

"Not surprisingly," said Dr Howard J Eisen (Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA) when presenting the findings, vitamin-D deficiency was much more common in African Americans (>60%) than in whites (about 20%). "This may yet be another explanation for the high prevalence of heart failure in this population."

Eisen said he has no disclosures.