Coronary artery disease develops when your arteries around your heart become damaged or diseased. The most common reason is that cholesterol-containing deposits build up in these arteries, causing them to become too narrow.
Narrow arteries around your heart cause decreased blood flow and oxygen, putting you at high risk for a heart attack.
Why cholesterol deposits build up in arteries is not well understood. Some researchers believe that a high-fat and high-fructose diet contribute to the build up.
Now, researchers from Creighton University are set to study if vitamin D deficiency contributes at all to the disease. Dr Devendra Agrawal, professor of biomedical sciences will take lead. He has received a $3.5 million federal grant to explore his hypothesis that vitamin D deficiency does contribute to the disease.
Using the grant, Dr Agrawal will study pigs for the next 5 years, in hopes that his findings will crossover well to humans.
The pigs will receive high quantities of lard and high-cholesterol, high-fructose powders. Some will receive vitamin D (at varying amounts) and some will receive no vitamin D and remain deficient. The researchers will examine if vitamin D sufficiency protects the arteries at all after 5 years.
Dr Agrawal has landed over $15 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health since starting at Creighton in 1985.
“He’s a virtual idea factory,” Dr. William Hunter, a pathology professor and collaborator on this study, said of Agrawal. “I’ve known him for over 20 years and worked with him. He’s constantly looking for new ways of looking at problems.”