December 17, 2014
Vitamin D Significantly Reduces Exacerbations in
Deficient COPD Patients

London—Exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be reduced by more than 40% in patients who are deficient in the vitamin, according to a new study.

Results of the randomized trial, funding by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research, were published recently in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Study authors note that this was the first clinical trial to investigate the impact of vitamin D supplementation on severity and duration of COPD symptoms; previous research linking vitamin D to a reduction in COPD exacerbations was smaller and limited to patients with very severe conditions, they point out.

The study, led by researchers from Queen Mary University of London, included 240 patients with COPD in and around London. About half of the patients received vitamin D supplements while the other half received equivalent placebo.

The risk, severity and duration of flare-ups were then compared between the two groups.

Results indicate that COPD patients with vitamin D deficiency benefited significantly from the supplements, but patients who already had higher vitamin D status at the start of the trial did not have the dramatic improvement of the other group.

“Pre-specified subgroup analysis showed that vitamin D3 was protective against moderate or severe exacerbation in participants with baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations of less than 50 nmol/L (0·57, 0·35—0·92, p=0·021), but not in those with baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of at least 50 nmol/L (1·45, 0·81—2·62, p=0·21; p=0·021 for interaction between allocation and baseline serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status),” according to the authors, who added, “Baseline vitamin D status did not modify the effect of the intervention on risk of upper respiratory infection.”

Vitamin D supplementation modestly reduced the severity and duration of flare-up symptoms in all patients receiving the supplement, however, compared to the placebo group, according to the report.

“Vitamin D3 supplementation protected against moderate or severe exacerbation, but not upper respiratory infection, in patients with COPD with baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of less than 50 nmol/L,” the authors conclude. “Our findings suggest that correction of vitamin D deficiency in patients with COPD reduces the risk of moderate or severe exacerbation.”

“Flare-ups of chronic bronchitis and emphysema (COPD) can be debilitating for patients, sometimes leading to hospitalization and even death,” added lead author Adrian Martineau, PhD. “Our research has shown how an inexpensive vitamin supplement can significantly reduce the risk of flare-ups for patients who are vitamin D deficient, which could have a major public health benefit. Our findings suggest that patients with COPD should have their vitamin D status tested and should begin taking supplements if their levels are found to be low.”

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect