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Low Vitamin D Levels Increases Risk of Poor Brain Function Post Cardiac Arrest

Update Date: Oct 18, 2014 11:50 AM EDT

Low vitamin D levels can be detrimental to one's health, a new study reported. According to researchers, patients who were deficient in vitamin D had an increased risk of poor brain function and an increased risk of death after cardiac arrest.

"In patients resuscitated after sudden cardiac arrest, recovery of neurological function is very important, as well as survival," Dr. Jin Wi from Korea said. "Vitamin D deficiency has been reported to be related to the risk of having various cardiovascular diseases, including sudden cardiac arrest. We investigated the association of vitamin D deficiency with neurologic outcome after sudden cardiac arrest, a topic on which there is no information so far."

For this study, the researchers examined clinical data that were collected from 53 patients who were resuscitated after suffering from cardiac arrest. The patients were treated at Severance Cardiovascular Hospital in Seoul. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) was performed in 41 patients. 31 patients were deficient in vitamin D with average levels at 10.3 ng/mL. The team used Cerebral Performance Category (CPC) to measure neurological outcome at six-months and after discharge. A lower CPC score indicated good brain function.

The researchers compared the patients CPC scores and vitamin D levels. They discovered that patients with a high CPC score of a three to a five tended to have very low vitamin D levels (7.9 ng/mL). On the other hand, patients with a low CPC score had higher levels of vitamin D (12.4ng/mL).

At the six-month point, the researchers found that 65 percent of the patients with low vitamin D deficiency had poor brain function, whereas only 23 percent of patients with normal vitamin D levels did. The death rates were 29 percent in the vitamin D deficient group and zero percent in the other group.

"Vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of poor neurological outcome after sudden cardiac arrest by 7-fold. The only factors that had a greater impact on poor neurological outcome were the absence of bystander CPR or having a first monitored heart rhythm that was non-shockable," Dr. Wi said according to the press release. "Our findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency should be avoided, especially in people with a high risk of sudden cardiac arrest."

He added, "A large randomized clinical trial is needed to find out whether supplements of vitamin D can protect high risk groups from having a sudden cardiac arrest."

The study was presented at the Acute Cardiovascular Care 2014 annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

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