Physicians Explore Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Hypertension

November 25, 2009 By Chris DeFrancesco
Drs. William White and Pooja Luthra are studying the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and hypertension. Photo by Lanny Nagler

( -- Drs. William White and Pooja Luthra at the University of Connecticut Health Center are investigating a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and high blood pressure.

Vitamin D is known to be important to bone health, but what about heart health?

UConn Health Center physician-scientists are looking into a possible link between deficiency and high blood pressure.

“Often patients don’t realize they have a , or are unaware of its relationship with health problems other than bone disorders,” says Dr. William B. White, professor of medicine and a hypertension expert in the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center. White served as the study’s principal investigator.

White and Dr. Pooja Luthra, assistant professor of medicine and an endocrinologist in the New England Musculoskeletal Institute, are recruiting patients with a diagnosis of treated or untreated and a vitamin D level in the insufficient range of 12 to 29. They also must not be taking regular doses of vitamin D.

“Epidemiologic studies have shown an association between measured vitamin D deficiency and increased risk for incident hypertension that is independent of age, , physical activity, race, and menopausal status,” Luthra says. “There is a need for clinical research studies that evaluate the effects of antihypertensive drugs in hypertensive patients with documented vitamin D insufficiency.”

“One of the possible mechanisms of elevated blood pressure in patients with vitamin D deficiency is the activation of renin, an enzyme produced in the kidney,” White says.

Research involving genomic mouse models found that those with vitamin D deficiency developed elevated production of renin and the protein angiotensin II, leading to hypertension.

In the 14-week, double-blind, randomized trial, participants will first receive either vitamin D replacement or the renin inhibitor aliskiren, then both medications in combination. White and Luthra will assess the corresponding changes in blood pressure both in the office setting and over a 24-hour period using ambulatory blood pressure monitoring, calcium and vitamin D concentrations, and biochemical parameters involving the renin-angiotensin system.

“We have reason to believe there’s a connection here, and this research will increase our knowledge regarding vitamin D as a cardiovascular risk factor,” White says. “We will try to establish the effects of vitamin D replacement and the impact of direct inhibition of renin in patients with vitamin D deficiency on . In the end, we hope that we can spread awareness about the association so that if patients with hypertension ask their doctors, ‘What if I have vitamin D deficiency?’ then their doctors will be prepared to make informed decisions about what to do about this problem.”

The UConn Health Center study is supported by an independent $480,000 investigator-initiated grant from Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in East Hanover, N.J., over the next three years.

Provided by University of Connecticut (news : web)

Explore further: Low vitamin D levels may be common in otherwise healthy children

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not rated yet Nov 26, 2009
25(OH)D levels below 30ng are considered insufficient because below that level physical damage to bone structure is measurable.
The level at which human breast milk naturally flows replete with vitamin D is around 60ng/ml.
The level associated with least cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illness is found is around 55ng/ml.
Ideal 25(OH)D levels are therefore very different from those suggested by those with a vested interest in promoting drug sales.
To correct vitamim D insufficiency generally takes 8~12 weeks daily consumption of 5000iu/D3.
Only above 50ng/ml is there a reserve of D3.
Only if all trial participants achieve effective 25(OH)D levels will anything new be learnt.
I suspect all this trial will confirm is that, too little, of the wrong kind of vitamin D, for far too short a period, does nothing very much at all.
Nov 28, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
not rated yet Dec 10, 2009
I am interested in this study as i came across a publication in kidney international a few weeks ago on this same topic. It will be interesting to find out if among black hypertensives vit D deficiency may play a role. I am interested in a collaborative study with the authors. Thanks

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