Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin - helps us survive a heart attack, and could even prevent the attack in the first place, a new study has found.
People deficient in the vitamin are seven times more likely to suffer poor brain functioning after a heart attack, say researchers. The attack could also be a killer if levels of the vitamin are low.
The most common source is sunshine, which the body synthesises into the vitamin, but most people living in the northern hemisphere are deficient, a problem not helped by an over-zealous 'keep out of the sun' campaign. Other sources include oily fish, eggs and supplements.
Its importance was underlined again this week by researchers from Korea after they monitored 55 heart-attack patients. Those with the highest levels of the vitamin were seven times less likely to suffer any long-term neurological problems after the attack. Overall, 65 per cent of the patients with low levels of the vitamin suffered a severe loss of brain functioning six months after the attack compared to 22 per cent of those with higher levels, while 29 per cent of those with low levels were also more likely to have died within six months after the attack. None of the patients with higher levels had died.
(Source: European Society of Cardiology acute cardiovascular care conference, October 18, 2014)