Low Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate is Associated With Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke Among Women
Background and Purpose—Previous research suggests greater risk of coronary heart disease with lower levels of the adrenal steroid dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). No studies have examined the association between DHEAS and risk of ischemic stroke. DHEAS may influence ischemic stroke risk through atherosclerotic-related mechanisms (endothelial function and smooth muscle cell proliferation) or insulin resistance.
Methods—Between 1989 and 1990, 32 826 women without prior stroke in the Nurses’ Health Study, an observational cohort, provided blood samples and were followed up for cardiovascular events. Among this sample, using a nested case–control design, 461 ischemic strokes were confirmed by medical records by 2006. Cases were matched to controls free of stroke at the time of the index case and by age, race, menopausal status, postmenopausal hormone use, smoking status, and date of sample collection. Multivariable conditional logistic regression was used.
Results—Median DHEAS levels did not differ between cases (median=58.7) and controls (median=66.0; P=0.10). Conditional on matching factors, the lowest DHEAS quartile exhibited a relative risk of 1.30 for ischemic stroke (95% confidence interval, 0.88–1.94), compared with the highest quartile and marginally unchanged when adjusted for confounders (relative risk=1.33; 95% confidence interval, 0.87–2.02). When modeled as a binary variable dichotomized at the lowest quartile, women with low DHEAS (≤the lowest quartile) had a significantly increased multivariable adjusted risk of ischemic stroke compared with those with higher levels (relative risk=1.41; 95% confidence interval, 1.03–1.92).
Conclusions—Lower DHEAS levels were associated with a greater risk of ischemic stroke, even after adjustment for potential confounders. These novel observations warrant confirmation in other populations.
- Received December 16, 2012.
- Accepted April 5, 2013.
- © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.