(HealthDay News) — Blood levels of the adrenal sex hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEA-S) may predict an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in elderly men, according to a study published in the October 28 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Åsa Tivesten, MD, PhD, from University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues used gas and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to analyze baseline levels of DHEA and DHEA-S in a prospective cohort study (2,416 men; aged 69–81 years). Swedish national registries were used to evaluate cardiovascular clinical outcomes.

The researchers found that over five years of follow-up, 302 participants had a CHD event, while 225 had a cerebrovascular disease (CBD) event. There was an inverse association between both DHEA and DHEA-S levels and the age-adjusted risk of a CHD event (hazard ratios, 0.82 and 0.86, respectively). For risk of CBD events, though, DHEA/-S had no statistically significant association. Even after adjustment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors, serum total testosterone and estradiol, C-reactive protein, and renal function, the association between DHEA and CHD risk remained significant. It also remained so after exclusion of the first 2.6 years of follow-up (an attempt to reduce reverse causality).

“Low serum levels of DHEA and its sulfate predict an increased risk of CHD, but not CBD, events in elderly men,” the authors write.

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