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Vitamin D reduces COPD exacerbations, study finds

COPD patients should routinely have their vitamin D status tested as supplementation could reduce the rate of exacerbations, new research has found.

Primary care researchers concluded that vitamin D supplementation may ‘safely and substantially’ reduced the risk of exacerbations in COPD patients with low baseline levels of vitamin D, and that COPD patients should therefore routinely have their vitamin D levels investigated.

They found that compared to placebo, vitamin D supplementation reduced the rate of COPD exacerbations by 45% in patients with baseline vitamin D levels of less than 25nmol/l. It had no significant effect, however, on those with levels of greater than 25nmol/l.

Supplementation was also found to be safe, as it had no significant effects on the proportion of patients experiencing adverse outcomes or dying from any cause.

The researchers said that since COPD patients often have ‘profound’ vitamin D deficiency, they should be offered routine testing.

The study was carried out by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and pooled the results of four clinical trials investigating the effects of vitamin D in just under 500 COPD patients.

They said in the paper: ‘Our findings support a strategy of routinely testing vitamin D status in patients with COPD who experience exacerbations and offering supplementation to those with circulating 25(OH)D concentrations of less than 25nmol/l.’

Thorax 2019; available online 11th January