Vitamin D deficiency increases hospitalisation risk in older population

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

getty | fizkes
getty | fizkes

Related tags Healthy ageing Vitamin d frailty

Vitamin D deficiency increases the likelihood of hospitalisation and the length of stay in the population aged over 60, according to a cross-sectional study of over 3,000 people.

Studies have revealed an association between vitamin D and conditions such as sepsis​, exacerbation of chronic illnesses, and functional outcomes following falls and fractures​. It has also been linked to a reduction in cardiovascular risk​, inflammation, increased platelet volume, vascular stiffness​ and improved cognitive function​.

Frailty is associated with increased hospital attendance and higher healthcare costs​ and an association has been found between vitamin D deficiency and frailty​.

Prior studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of hospital re-admission, nursing home admission, and increased hospital LOS​. Whereas some studies have shown an association between vitamin D and conditions leading to admission such as multiple sclerosis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)​, and infections​. 

The aim of the current study was to evaluate the relationship between serum vitamin D and emergency department attendance, hospital admission, and length of stay (LOS) in older Irish community-dwelling adults.

This is the first study to examine the association between vitamin D deficiency and hospitalisation, as opposed to specific diseases or illnesses, in a large population of older adults. 

The analysis was conducted in 3093 participants aged 60 years and older recruited to the Trinity-Ulster, Department of Agriculture (TUDA) study through St James’s Hospital, Dublin.

It was a cross-sectional study designed to create a genotype/phenotype database for three population cohorts based on three disease states: cognition, bone health, and hypertension. 

The reported results reveal an inverse relationship between vitamin D deficiency and emergency department attendance, hospital admission rate, and LOS.

Participants with concentrations of 25(OH)D < 50nmol/L were more likely to attend the ED and be admitted. This relationship remained robust in fully adjusted models accounting for multiple cofounders for vitamin D status, measures of physical and cognitive frailty, and for a number of chronic conditions.

Those participants with lower vitamin D who were admitted to hospital were also more likely to have longer LOS compared with vitamin-D-replete participants.

The report concludes: "This prospective association strengthens the need to consider vitamin D as an independent modifiable factor in ED attendance and hospital admission rates and the potential need for supplementation in older adults deficient in vitamin D to bring concentrations >50 nmol/L.

"The need for further evaluation of current recommendations in relation to vitamin D supplementation, with consideration of the effects of deficiency beyond bone health, is warranted and should focus on randomised controlled trials."

Source: Nutrients

Cunningham. C., et al

"Vitamin D and Hospital Admission in Older Adults: A Prospective Association"

Related topics Research

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