Low steroid levels linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease

June 23, 2012

Low levels of a naturally occurring steroid are associated with an increased risk of heart and blood-vessel disease in elderly men, a new study finds. The results will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

The steroid in question is dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, which is secreted by the and circulates in blood mainly in a sulfated form, DHEA-S. In other tissues, DHEA-S is converted into the testosterone and estrogen.

Previous, smaller studies found an association between low DHEA-S levels and heart and blood-vessel, or cardiovascular, disease, although their results were inconclusive. At this time, while we know that DHEA production decreases with age, the exact of its decline are unclear.

In this large-scale study, investigators study found that with the lowest DHEA-S were significantly more likely than those with higher concentrations to develop events within five years. The increased risk persisted even after controlling for other influences, indicating that low DHEA-S levels are independently associated with a greater risk of disease.

"Our findings may be the result of DHEA-S being protective, or that lower DHEA-S level is a marker for poor ," said study lead author Åsa Tivesten, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. "More research is needed to understand underlying mechanisms and to evaluate the potential benefits of hormone replacement."

Investigators used an advanced laboratory technique to isolate, identify, and measure DHEA-S levels in the blood. During the five-year follow-up, they used nationwide medical registries to document 485 cases of cardiovascular disease among the study participants.

Patients included 2,416 men between the ages of 69 and 81 years. All were participants in the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Sweden study, which is a long-term project designed to examine risk factors for a number of diseases.

According to Tivesten, it is important to note that this study's findings only indicate that low DHEA-S levels may be related to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. "We cannot say that DHEA-S is protective because we have only studied an association," she said.

"A potential practical implication is that established cardiovascular risk factors perhaps should be assessed and treated more aggressively in men with lower DHEA-S levels. However, this must be evaluated in future studies; today, DHEA-S level is not part of cardiovascular-risk assessment."

Explore further: Blood test for Alzheimer's: Study identifies procedure that detects early stages

Related Stories

Blood test for Alzheimer's: Study identifies procedure that detects early stages

May 4, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A new blood test that will diagnose Alzheimer's disease may soon hit the market, thanks to an innovative study from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). Their findings ...

Elevated hormone levels add up to increased breast cancer risk

October 21, 2011
Post-menopausal women with high levels of hormones such as estrogen or testosterone are known to have a higher risk of breast cancer. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Breast Cancer Research looked ...

High testosterone levels and lower heart risks tied together

October 6, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reports that higher natural levels of testosterone in elderly men may reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Recommended for you

Early study shows shoe attachment can help stroke patients improve their gait

December 14, 2017
A new device created at the University of South Florida – and including a cross-disciplinary team of experts from USF engineering, physical therapy and neurology – is showing early promise for helping correct the signature ...

Scientists rewrite our understanding of how arteries mend

December 13, 2017
Scientists from The University of Manchester have discovered how the severity of trauma to arterial blood vessels governs how the body repairs itself.

Deadly heart rhythm halted by noninvasive radiation therapy

December 13, 2017
Radiation therapy often is used to treat cancer patients. Now, doctors at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that radiation therapy—aimed directly at the heart—can be used to treat patients ...

Ultra-thin tissue samples could help to understand and treat heart disease

December 12, 2017
A new method for preparing ultra-thin slices of heart tissue in the lab could help scientists to study how cells behave inside a beating heart.

Research reveals how diabetes in pregnancy affects baby's heart

December 12, 2017
Researchers at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have discovered how high glucose levels—whether caused by diabetes or other factors—keep heart cells from maturing ...

Young diabetics could have seven times higher risk for sudden cardiac death

December 12, 2017
Young diabetics could have seven times more risk of dying from sudden cardiac arrest than their peers who don't have diabetes, according to new research.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.