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Vitamin D-3 found to improve blood pumping in heart failure patients

Update Date: Apr 06, 2016 07:20 AM EDT

Vitamin D-3 supplements were found to be helpful on people with diseased hearts, according to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology 65th Annual Scientific Session & Expo in Chicago, IL.

In the study, 163 patients who had suffered from heart failure were given either a 100 microgram vitamin D-3 tablet or a sugar pill placebo each day for a year.

Then they were measured for the ejection fraction, which is the amount of blood pumped out of the chambers of the heart with each beat.

In a healthy adult, the figure is between 60% and 70%, but only a quarter of the blood in the heart was being successfully pumped out in the heart failure patients.

At the end of the study period, an echocardiogram was used to measure changes in patients' heart function, including ejection fraction, reported the Medical News Today.

For those taking the vitamin pills, the ejection fraction increased from 26% to 34%, according to a BBC report. The patients' hearts also became smaller, which means they are becoming more powerful and efficient.

The vitamin, which is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, improved their hearts' ability to pump blood around the body. The average age of people in the study was 70. Consultant Dr. Klaus Witte cardiologist of the University of Leeds School of Medicine in the UK noted that people of that age spend less time outside and their skins are less effective in manufacturing vitamin D.

Dr Witte described the result as "quite a big deal" and "stunning." However, he does not think high-dose vitamin D should be routine prescribed just yet as they need a larger study.

"A much bigger study over a longer period of time is now needed to determine whether these changes in cardiac function can translate into fewer symptoms and longer lives for heart failure patients." Added Prof Peter Weissberg of the British Heart Foundation.

It is also not clear exactly how vitamin D is improving heart function, but it is thought every cell in the body responds to the vitamin. Most vitamin D comes from sunlight, although it is also found in oily fish, eggs and is added to some foods such as breakfast cereals.

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