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 Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Despite the great amount of literature on vascular and metabolic actions of DHEA/-S, evidence for an association between DHEA/-S levels and cardiovascular events is contradictory,” explained Åsa Tivesten, MD, PhD, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues.

To test whether serum DHEA and DHEA-S are predictors of major CHD and/or cerebrovascular disease (CBD) events in elderly men, the investigators conducted a large cohort study involving 2,416 male patients, aged 69 to 81 years. Swedish national registries were used to evaluate cardiovascular clinical outcomes.

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Over five years of follow-up, 302 participants had a CHD event, while 225 had a 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,” concluded the researchers.


  1. Tivesten A et al. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014; doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.05.076