WORCHESTER, MASSACHUSETTS. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and its sulfate (DHEAS) are important hormones. Blood levels of DHEA and DHEAS decline with age and this decline has been implicated in such conditions as diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and elevated cholesterol levels. Now researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School report that low DHEA levels are associated with a significantly increased risk of ischemic heart disease (angina and heart attack). Their study involved 1,167 men between the ages of 40 and 69 years who were enrolled between 1987 and 1989. Nine years later 151 of the men had developed or had died from ischemic heart disease (IHD). Diabetes, age, hypertension, and smoking were confirmed as the most potent risk factors for IHD. However, after accounting for these and other known risk factors the researchers concluded that men with low DHEA levels (serum DHEAS below 1.6 microgram/mL) had a 1.6 times higher risk of developing IHD than did men with higher levels (serum DHEAS between 3.31 and 12.30 micrograms/mL). The risk increase with low DHEAS levels was particularly significant (two-fold) among men with normal blood pressure and among men in the 50 to 59 year age group (2.5- fold). The researchers point out that DHEA has been demonstrated to inhibit low-density lipoprotein oxidation, plaque formation, platelet aggregation, and cell proliferation. They caution that further studies are required to determine whether supplementing with DHEA is beneficial.
Feldman, Henry A., et al. Low dehydroepiandrosterone and ischemic heart disease in middle-aged men: prospective results from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 153, January 1, 2001, pp. 79-89 [79 references]