A new study out of China suggests that vitamin D status is significantly associated with carotid atherosclerosis in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Atherosclerosis is the hardening and thickening of the artery walls caused by a buildup of things like white blood cells, fats, and cholesterol, which together form plaques in the arteries. It is the most common cause of heart disease.
Artery-related heart complications such as hypertension and stroke are common in patients with type 2 diabetes. About 65% of people with diabetes die from a form of heart disease or stroke.
Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) can be used for both diagnosing and tracking the progression of atherosclerosis and is therefore of clinical relevance to diabetics. IMT is the measurement of the two innermost arterial walls, and a large IMT is a predictor of atherosclerosis.
Vitamin D is of great interest to researchers studying atherosclerosis. Through multiple mechanisms, higher vitamin D status is shown to directly reduce plaque formation and reduce blood pressure.
Researchers recently recruited 350 patients with type 2 diabetes to determine if vitamin D’s role in the arteries extended to those with diabetes.
The researchers divided the participants into two groups: those with carotid plaques and those without carotid plaques. Vitamin D status was compared between the two groups.
The researchers found that the vitamin D levels were significantly lower in those with carotid plaques compared to those without carotid plaques.
The carotid IMT and carotid plaques were higher in people with the lowest vitamin D levels compared to people with the highest vitamin D levels.
“Serum vitamin D level is significantly and independently associated with carotid atherosclerosis in patients with T2DM in Shanghai, China,” the researchers concluded.