With so many people struggling with heart disease worldwide, and with the condition being the number one cause of death in the United States, it’s only natural that a lot effort goes into fighting it. But few new things seem to actually work against the condition, as the decades-old treatments remain our best weapon against heart disease.
But sometimes, the only reason we can’t seem to find a new solution is because we’re looking in the wrong place. According to a team of researchers from the University of Leeds School of Medicine, heart function is improved by vitamin D3, perhaps even reducing the need for some pacemakers.
According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Klaus Witte, this is the first evidence we’ve had that vitamin D3 can actually improve heart function in patients with heart muscle weakness, a condition which leads to heart failure. The results could perhaps be a great breakthrough in treating people suffering from heart failure.
For the study, the researchers looked at 160 patients. Out of the 160, some had pacemakers implanted at some point, while others were taking blood pressure medicine in the form of beta blockers and ACE inhibitors. Some of the patients both had a pacemaker and were taking the medicine.
The participants were divided into two groups, one group taking vitamin D and the other taking a placebo once a day for a whole year. The researchers made a point not to use calcium with the vitamin D supplements, as it is known to cause issues in heart failure patients.
Results were better than the team expected, with the patients taking the vitamin D supplements seeing an eight percent improvement in their heart function, from 26 percent up to 64 percent. Meanwhile, there was no difference recorded in the placebo patients.
A very important finding, according to the team behind the study, was that the improvement seen in some of the patients who took vitamin D3 for a year actually reduced their need for an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).
These ICDs can of course only be implanted via surgery, and they work by detecting problems in the rhythm of the heat and administering an electric shock to restore the regular heartbeat. They are very expensive and can lead to other medical issues, so managing to reduce the chances of even a few patients having to get them implanted would totally improve their health and quality of life.
With heart failure affecting some twenty-three million people worldwide, it’s only natural that we try to come up with a solution – and the commonly used vitamin D might actually help save a few lives. The study was presented on Monday in Chicago, during the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.
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