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Vitamin D status may impact stroke severity

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Past studies have already linked the vitamin D status to many diseases. US researchers have now found an association to severity of stroke and subsequent recovery. The lower the vitamin D level, the more severe the stroke and the poorer the recovery, reported scientists at the “International Stroke Conference 2015” of the American Stroke Association in Nashville (Tennessee).

The study, carried out by the University of Massachusetts in Worchester, included 96 patients who were treated between January 2013 and January 2014 after suffering a stroke. Study subjects with low vitamin D levels (25-hydroxyvitamin D below 30 nanograms per millilitre of blood) had areas of dead tissue that was twice as large as that found in patients with normal vitamin D status. This affected both patients with lacunar and with non-lacunar strokes.

The vitamin D level also affected the recovery following a stroke. For each 10 ng/ml reduction in 25-hydroxyvitamin D the chance of recovery within three months following a stroke decreased by half. Stroke severity and the age of the patients did not play a role.

Since the study only involved a small number of mainly Caucasian study participants, it was too early to draw firm conclusions, the authors conceded. Nevertheless, patients should seek advice from their physicians regarding the need for vitamin D supplementation, particularly if they have an elevated risk of stroke, the authors recommended. Further studies were needed.