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Vitamin D Treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease FREE

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The full report is titled “High Doses of Vitamin D to Reduce Exacerbations in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. A Randomized Trial.” It is in the 17 January 2012 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 156, pages 105-114). The authors are A. Lehouck, C. Mathieu, C. Carremans, F. Baeke, J. Verhaegen, J. Van Eldere, B. Decallonne, R. Bouillon, M. Decramer, and W. Janssens.

Ann Intern Med. 2012;156(2):I-26. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-156-2-201201170-00001
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) impairs the movement of air in and out of the lungs and causes shortness of breath. It is usually caused by cigarette smoking, and it is also referred to as “chronic bronchitis” or “emphysema.” Patients with COPD frequently have acute worsening of their disease, which may require hospitalization. These acute events are called “exacerbations of COPD.” Patients with more severe COPD tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D treatments are currently useful for some patients to improve the health of their bones. Whether increasing the blood levels of vitamin D in patients with COPD can prevent acute exacerbations is not known.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see whether treatment with vitamin D can reduce the number of acute exacerbations of COPD.

Who was studied?

182 patients with COPD who had a history of exacerbations.

How was the study done?

Blood levels of vitamin D were measured at the beginning and throughout the study. Patients were given either vitamin D or placebo pills once per month for 1 year. The researchers recorded whether patients had exacerbations of COPD during the study.

What did the researchers find?

Although vitamin D levels increased in the patients who received vitamin D pills, there was no difference in the number of exacerbations of COPD compared with the patients who received placebo pills. The researchers noted that the number of exacerbations may have decreased with vitamin D treatment among a small group of patients with extremely low levels of vitamin D at the beginning of the study, but they were not able to make firm conclusions.

What were the limitations of the study?

The study was performed at only 1 center and had a small number of patients.

What are the implications of the study?

Although some patients with COPD and low levels of vitamin D might require treatment to help protect their bones, this study suggests that vitamin D treatment is not an effective way to prevent exacerbations of COPD. Further study would be needed to assess whether some patients with COPD might have a reduction in the number of exacerbations with vitamin D treatment.





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