Condition category
Circulatory System
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting
Publication status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Small studies have shown that vitamin D, a hormone that the skin usually makes using sunshine, may be able to improve muscle function pressure in some people. The majority of people in Scotland have low levels of vitamin D, and we know that people with heart failure have both low vitamin D levels and weaker muscles than usual. The weakness of the muscles is one of the reasons why people with heart failure become tired and breathless easily.
The aim of the study is to find out if giving extra vitamin D to people who have heart failure helps to improve muscle function, and see if giving vitamin D can improve some other measures of heart function and inflammation that are affected by heart failure.

Who can participate?
Adults aged 70 years or over with chronic heart failure

What does the study involve?
The study lasts for 20 weeks. Participants are randomly allocated into one of two groups, and given either a capsule of vitamin D or a placebo (dummy) at the start of the study, and then again 10 weeks later.
Participants are assessed at the start, and at 10 and 20 weeks. Each visit will 1.5 hours. At each visit, participants have some or all of the following are measured, depending on which visit it is:
- Blood pressure
- Take a blood sample
- Walk up and down a corridor for six minutes to see how far they can walk
- Time you whilst you get out of a chair and walk a few paces
- Wear a small box (accelerometer) on their waistband during the day for a week. This records movement, to measure how active you are.
- Answer two questionnaires about quality of life and heart failure symptoms

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Although this dose of vitamin D has been used before and is known to be safe there is a small possibility of side effects. Participants are closely monitored for side effects caused by high calcium levels: sickness, diarrhoea, thirst or dizziness. To reduce the chance of vitamin D increasing the calcium level in their blood, participants are asked not to take vitamin D supplements or calcium supplements whilst taking part in this study.
Having blood taken can cause some bruising. The blood pressure cuff causes mild discomfort to some people. Participants may feel tired after the six minute walk depending on how much walking they usually do.

Where is the study run from?
Ninewells Hospital Dundee (UK)

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
June 2004 to December 2008

Who is funding the study?
Biomedical and Therapeutics Research Committee (UK)

Who is the main contact?
Dr Miles Witham (Scientific)

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Miles Witham


Contact details

Section of Ageing and Health
Ninewells Hospital
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1382 632436

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number

2004-002116-28 number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

Is Vitamin D supplementation associated with an improvement in functional capacity in older people with chronic heart failure? A double blind, placebo controlled trial


Study hypothesis

That oral administration of 100,000 U of ergocalciferol every 10 weeks will improve exercise capacity, daily activity and quality of life in older, frail heart failure patients

Ethics approval

1. Tayside Research Ethics Committee, 21/9/2004, ref: 04/S1401/128
2. Fife and Forth Valley Research Ethics Committee, 15/02/2008, ref: 08/S0501/13

Study design

Double blind placebo controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet


Chronic Heart Failure


100,000 Units of oral Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2) every 10 weeks versus placebo

Intervention type



Not Specified

Drug names


Primary outcome measure

Current primary outcome measure (as of 28/02/2018):
Six minute walk distance measured using the six minute walk test at baseline, 10 and 20 weeks.

Previous primary outcome measure:
Six minute walk distance

Secondary outcome measures

Current secondary outcome measures (as of 28/02/2018):
1. Mobility is measured using the Timed Up and Go test at baseline, 10 and 20 weeks
2. Daily activity is measured by triaxial accelerometry at baseline, 10 and 20 weeks
3. Health status and Quality of life are measured using FLP and Minnesota LWHF questionnaires at baseline, 10 and 20 weeks
4. B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), renin, aldosterone, and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) alpha are measured using ELISA assays at baseline, 10 and 20 weeks
5. Vitamin D deficiency is measured using the 25OHD test at baseline, 10 and 20 weeks

Previous secondary outcome measures:
1. Timed up and go test
2. Daily activity by triaxial accelerometry
3. Health status and Quality of life (FLP and Minnesota LWHF questionnaires)
4. B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), renin, aldosterone, angiotensin II, tumour necrosis factor (TNF) alpha

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Age 70 years or over
2. Vitamin D levels of 20 µg/l (50 nmol/l) or less
3. Left ventricular systolic dysfunction on echocardiography, contrast ventriculography or radionuclide ventriculography
4. Clinical diagnosis of chronic heart failure, New York Heart Association class II and III

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Mini Mental State examination score <15/30
2. Serum creatinine >200 umol/l
3. Systolic blood pressure <90 mmHg
4. Corrected calcium >2.55 mmol/l
5. Metastatic malignancy
6. Clinical diagnosis of symptomatic osteomalacia
7. Patients with a history of recurrent falls
8. Patients unable to walk without human assistance

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Section of Ageing and Health
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Dundee (UK)

Sponsor details

Research and Innovation Services
11 Perth Road
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1382 344943

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

Biomedical and Therapeutics Research committee, Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Executive (CZB/4/300)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

The protocol is available from the authors on request but is not available online.

IPD sharing statement:
Study data are available for non-commercial, bona-fide academic analyses in collaboration with the authors; decisions on data access will be made between the investigators and the Sponsor (University of Dundee). Participant consent for unrestricted sharing of individual participant data was not obtained
Contact for data sharing: Dr Catrina Forde (

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Available on request

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

2010 results in

Publication citations

  1. Results

    Witham MD, Crighton LJ, Gillespie ND, Struthers AD, McMurdo ME, The effects of vitamin D supplementation on physical function and quality of life in older patients with heart failure: a randomized controlled trial., Circ Heart Fail, 2010, 3, 2, 195-201, doi: 10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.109.907899.

Additional files

Editorial Notes

28/02/2018: The following changes were made: 1. Ethics approval, scientific title, EudraCT number, trial setting, plain english summary, participant level data and basic results summary were added. 2. Primary and secondary outocme measures were updated. 3. Overall trial start date was changed from 01/06/2005 to 30/06/2004. 4. Recruitment end date was changed from 29/02/2008 to 31/05/2008. 5. Overall trial end date was changed from 29/02/2008 to 31/12/2008.