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Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of coronary artery calcification in African Americans with HIV

Posted on: September 10, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council


New research out of the journal Vascular Health and Risk Management suggests that vitamin D deficiency is associated with coronary artery calcification in African Americans with HIV.

Coronary artery calcification is a measure of coronary atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by plaque build up along the inner walls of the arteries of the heart. This narrows the arteries, restricts blood flow to the heart and increases the risk of heart attack.

There is good evidence that patients with HIV have an increased risk for coronary artery disease. This may be due to the effects of antiretroviral therapies. Recent evidence also suggests that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk for coronary artery disease.

In this new study, researchers wanted to see if vitamin D correlated at all with coronary artery calcification (a measure of coronary atherosclerosis) in African Americans with HIV.

It turns out that it did. The researchers looked at 846 African Americans with HIV who enrolled in the study between 2003 and 2012. All participants had their vitamin D level tested, along with a coronary artery calcium score, as measured by a Sensation Cardiac 64 scanner.

They found that coronary artery calcium was present in 23.1% of patients who were deficient in vitamin D, compared to just 16.9% who sufficient in vitamin D. Furthermore, they found that your risk of having coronary artery calcium was the highest in those with vitamin D levels below 10 ng/ml.

The researchers concluded, “In order to reduce the risk for coronary artery disease in HIV-infected African Americans, this study suggests that vitamin D levels should be closely monitored. Identifying and successfully treating vitamin D deficiency may be much easier than managing some traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease, including cigarette smoking cessation and achieving and maintaining optimal blood pressure control.”


Lai S et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with coronary artery calcification in cardiovascularly asymptomatic African Americans with HIV infection. Vascular Health and Risk Management, 2013.

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