Low dehydroepiandrosterone and ischemic heart disease in middle-aged men: Prospective results from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study
The adrenal steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and its sulfate (DHEAS) have been characterized as "protective" against ischemic heart disease (IHD), especially in men, on the basis of sparse epidemiologic evidence. The authors used data from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, a random sample prospective study of 1,709 men aged 40–70 years at baseline, to test whether serum levels of DHEA or DHEAS could predict incident IHD over a 9-year interval. At baseline (1987–1989) and follow-up (1995–1997), an interviewer-phlebotomist visited each subject in his home to obtain comprehensive health information, body measurements, and blood samples for hormone and lipid analysis. Incident IHD between baseline and follow-up was ascertained from hospital records and death registries, supplemented by self-report and evidence of medication. In the analysis sample of 1,167 men, those with serum DHEAS in the lowest quartile at baseline (<1.6 µg/ml) were significantly more likely to incur IHD by follow-up (adjusted odds ratio = 1.60, 95 percent confidence interval: 1.07, 2.39; p = 0.02), independently of a comprehensive set of known risk factors including age, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, serum lipids, alcohol intake, and physical activity. Low serum DHEA was similarly predictive. These results confirm prior evidence that low DHEA and DHEAS can predict IHD in men.