Besides helping build strong bones and muscles, Vitamin D may also protect heart tissue and prevent heart failure after a heart attack, finds a study conducted on mice. Heart failure is a life-threatening condition affecting an estimated 23 million people worldwide. A previous study had shown that people who have suffered from cardiovascular disease, and have a normal intake of vitamin D, reduce their risk of morality by 30%.
Vitamin D prevents excessive scarring and thickening of heart tissue following a heart attack, which may help reduce the risk of heart failure. “This is a problem because scarring of heart tissue can reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, which can lead to heart failure,” said James Chong, Associate Professor at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Australia.
For the study, published in the journal Heart Lung and Circulation, researchers used mouse models to investigate the impact of 1,25D — a form of Vitamin D that interacts with hormones — on the cardiac colony-forming unit fibroblasts (cCFU-Fs)cells that form scar tissue after a heart attack. Heart attacks occur when blood supply to the heart is blocked, leading to tissue damage. This triggers an inflammatory response where the cCFU-Fs replace the damaged tissue with collagen-based scar tissue.
“Our research shows that vitamin D actually blocks the cCFU-Fs from forming scar tissue. By blocking cCFU-Fs, vitamin D may play an important role in lowering the risk of heart failure after a heart attack,” Chong said. “The benefits of Vitamin D are becoming increasingly known, but we still don’t fully understand how mechanistically it can help with heart disease management. We wanted to know more about how Vitamin D protects the heart after a heart attack,” he added.