Low steroid levels linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease

June 23, 2012, The Endocrine Society

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

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Heart-muscle patches made with human cells improve heart attack recovery

January 10, 2018
Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery ...

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.