Lack of vitamin D may stiffen arteries

April 4, 2011 at 2:11 AM

ATLANTA, April 4 (UPI) -- A lack of Vitamin D can lead to stiffer arteries and an inability of blood vessels to relax, making a heart attack more likely, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Ibhar Al Mheid of Emory University School of Medicine and Dr. Arshed Quyyumi, a professor of medicine and director of the Emory Cardiovascular Research Institute, obtained data from 554 Emory or Georgia Tech employees -- average age 47 and generally healthy -- who took part in the Center for Health Discovery and Well Being program.

The researchers say the average level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D -- a form of the vitamin reflecting diet as well as production in the skin -- in participants' blood was 31.8 nanograms per milliliter. In this group, 14 percent had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter -- considered deficient -- and 33 percent had less than 30 nanograms per milliliter levels -- considered insufficient.

"We found that people with vitamin D deficiency had vascular dysfunction comparable to those with diabetes or hypertension," Al Mheid says.

The findings were presented at the annual American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.

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