One of the supplements my cardiologist recommended was vitamin D. I recently read on Pinterest that over 75% of heart attack victims had lowered vitamin D levels - didn't see a source for that number/statistic, but believe that it is in the ball park based on all the research now focused on this necessarily nutrient. It acts as a hormone, and regulates over 200 or more genes across the body. WebMD cites a study by the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah, which had the following findings:
"The first study involved more than 9,400 patients whose blood tests revealed low vitamin D levels during a routine trip to the doctor. Their average vitamin D level was 19.3 nanograms per milliliter; levels of 30 are generally considered "normal," according to J. Brent Muhlestein, MD, the Institute's director of cardiovascular research.
At their next follow-up visit, about half had raised their vitamin D levels to above 30 nanograms per milliliter.
Compared with patients whose vitamin D levels were still low, patients who raised their vitamin D levels were 33% less likely to have a heart attack, 20% less likely to develop heart failure, and 30% less likely to die over an average follow-up period of one year.
In the second study, the researchers placed more than 41,000 patients into three categories based on their levels of vitamin D -- normal, moderate deficiency, and severe deficiency. Then they combed their medical records to see who had been diagnosed with heart disease or stroke.
According to Dr. Michos of John's Hopkins Hospital, women tend to be deficient in vitamin D more often than men as we are more likely to wear sunscreen and/or stay out of the sun. Older people tend to absorb vitamin D less, and fat cells also absorb vitamin D and keep it from circulating throughout the blood stream. Interestingly enough, I was found to be vitamin D deficient in my last physical exam, so I absolutely believe this to have been a factor in my heart attack.
A simple blood test that your doctor can order will tell if you have this deficiency or not. Supplementation is easy and inexpensive - most people probably need about 1,000-2,000 IU per day and I found small, easy to swallow pills at my local natural foods store. If you prefer getting vitamin D from your diet, eat some mushrooms, milk, orange juice, fish, tofu, and/or eggs to help your body along. Of course, a nice stroll outside on a sunny day doesn't hurt either!