Scientists from New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University reviewed the role of vitamin D in heart disease and COVID-19.
COVID-19 is associated with strong morbidity and mortality around the world.
Several studies have found that people with heart disease and related heart risk factors are at especially high risk for adverse outcomes with COVID-19.
Further, COVID-19 infection is linked to numerous heart complications including heart rhythm problems, heart injury, blood clots, and strokes.
Researchers suggest that increased susceptibility to COVID-19 and heart complications related to COVID-19 may be in part related to immune problems and inflammation linked to heart disease. Heart disease is exacerbated by viral infection.
As such, anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating drugs remain a major focus of research in COVID-19 therapeutics.
Previous studies have found that vitamin D plays a major role in immune function and exerts anti-inflammatory effects, which may prove important in the context of CVD and COVID-19.
In addition to its well-known role in mineral metabolism, vitamin D helps regulate immunity and the immune-mediated inflammatory response.
Researchers also have found vitamin D promotes autophagy that enhances viral clearance and tempers the inflammatory response.
Some studies found that daily or weekly supplementation with vitamin D reduced the risk of the development of acute respiratory infections.
To date, research has shown little benefit for vitamin D supplementation in people with COVID-19, though there are no studies specific to patients with CVD and related complications.
People with pre-existing vitamin D deficiency showed the strongest protective effects.
The current review suggests that given that vitamin D has important protective effects on heart health, future research needs to examine if supplementation with vitamin D can mitigate heart complications associated with COVID-19.
Additionally, given the association of vitamin D deficiency with heart risk factors and related chronic illness, vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for poor outcomes in COVID-19 among those with pre-existing heart disease.
The research was published in Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders and conducted by Elissa Driggin et al.
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