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Highlights from the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions

Vitamin D and heart disease, the effectiveness of external defibrillators and more from the Orlando, Fla., meeting

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4:09pm, November 15, 2011

Vitamin D for the heart
Giving vitamin D to patients after they’ve survived a heart attack or a close call lowers their levels of two compounds implicated in heart disease. Yoav Arnson of Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, Israel, and colleagues identified 50 patients who had a heart attack or an episode of unstable angina — a cardiac red alert. All the patients were immediately started on standard drugs and half were randomly selected to also get 4,000 international units of vitamin D daily.  After five days, the vitamin D group showed a decrease in the inflammation-causing compounds called vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and interleukin-6. VCAM-1 is central to atherosclerotic plaque formation and IL-6 is broadly associated with coronary risk. Patients not getting vitamin D showed clear increases in both compounds during the five days. This could explain some of the vitamin’s cardio-protective properties, Arnson reported November 15.

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