Patients with ESRD commonly experience secondary hyperparathyroidism, a condition primarily managed with activated injectable vitamin D. The biologic effects of vitamin D, however, are widespread, and it is possible that activated injectable vitamin D alters survival in ESRD. This hypothesis was tested in a historical cohort study of incident hemodialysis patients who lived throughout the United States between January 1996 and December 1999. The primary outcome was 2-yr survival among those who survived for at least 90 d after initiation of chronic hemodialysis. During this period, 51,037 chronic hemodialysis patients survived for at least 90 d from the initiation of hemodialysis, and in the ensuing 2 yr, 37,173 received activated injectable vitamin D and 13,864 did not. At 2 yr, mortality rates were 13.8/100 person-years in the group that received injectable vitamin D compared with 28.6/100 person-years in the group that did not (P < 0.001). Cox proportional hazards analyses adjusting for several potential confounders and examining injectable vitamin D therapy as a time-dependent exposure suggested that compared with patients who did not receive injectable vitamin D, the 2-yr survival advantage associated with the group that did receive injectable vitamin D was 20% (hazard ratio, 0.80; 95% confidence interval, 0.76 to 0.83). The incidence of cardiovascular-related mortality was 7.6/100 person-years in the injectable vitamin D group, compared with 14.6/100 person-years in the non-vitamin D group (P < 0.001). The benefit of injectable vitamin D was evident in 48 of 49 strata examined, including those with low serum levels of intact parathyroid hormone and elevated levels of serum calcium and phosphorus, situations in which injectable vitamin D is often withheld. Repeating the entire analysis using marginal structural models to adjust for time-dependent confounding by indication yielded a survival advantage of 26% (hazard ratio, 0.74; 95% confidence interval, 0.71 to 0.79) associated with the injectable vitamin D group. In this historical cohort study, chronic hemodialysis patients in the group that received injectable vitamin D had a significant survival advantage over patients who did not. Randomized clinical trials would permit definitive conclusions.
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