Teens and young adults with type 2 diabetes who also have low vitamin D levels are at risk for arterial stiffness, an established heart disease risk factor, according to new research. The stiffer the arteries, the harder the heart has to work to pump blood through the arteries, increasing the risk for heart problems later in life.
The retrospective pilot study was presented by Pranati Jha, MD, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center at the Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco this past week. Dr Jha and colleagues included 189 type 2 diabetes patients, 190 nondiabetic people who are obese, and 191 nondiabetic people with normal body weight. All groups were age, race, and gender matched. Participants were ages 14 to 21, two-thirds female, and 51-60% African American.
The authors report that arterial stiffness significantly worsened moving from the normal weight controls (-1%), to obese participants (2.5%), to obese participants with type 2 diabetes (5.7%). Average vitamin D levels in the normal weight group were 21 ng/ml, 14 ng/ml in the obese group, and 14 ng/ml in the type 2 diabetes group. For every 3 ng/ml increase in vitamin D status, the augmentation index – which measures arterial stiffness – improved by 1%.
“Clinicians may consider routine screening [in patients with type 2 diabetes] because it’s 80% of the patients who have deficient vitamin D levels,” Dr Jha explains. “Based on these study results, we could say that optimization of serum vitamin D levels may have a beneficial effect on arterial stiffness in youth with type 2 diabetes, thereby affecting their cardiovascular outcome, which is the major cause of morbidity.”
Dr Jha and colleagues call for randomized controlled trials to assess whether vitamin D would improve clinical outcomes.