Look for Drugs and Conditions

Representative Image

Dutch study finds stress hormone levels in hair can predict possible future heart ailments

The presence of glucocorticoids, a group of steroid hormones secreted in response to stress, in a person's hair may indicate which of them is more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in the future, a new study by Dutch researchers being presented during the on-going 30th European Congress on Obesity (ECO2023) in Dublin, Ireland found.

Long-term levels of scalp hair cortisol and its inactive counterpart, hair cortisone, are increasingly used as indicators for glucocorticoid exposure during the previous months.

It should be mentioned that a large body of research points to a connection between the stress hormones cortisol and cortisone and the body's metabolism and fat distribution. There is, however, a paucity of data on these stress hormone levels and their effects on long-term CVD outcomes.

To learn more, researchers from Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands examined cortisol and cortisol levels in 6,341 hair samples from adult men and women (aged 18 and older) who took part in Lifelines, a multi-generational study with over 167,000 participants from the northern region of Netherlands.

The researchers stated during their oral presentation at the Congress that they tested the participants' hair and monitored them for an average of 5-7 years to determine the long-term link between incident CVD and cortisol and hormone levels. During this time, they also recorded 133 CVD incidents.

Also Read:

Cases of high blood pressure due to mental stress doubled in India in last 10 years: Dr Sumit Aggarwal

Commenting on the findings of the study, lead author Dr Eline van der Valk from Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam stated, “There is a tremendous amount of evidence that chronic stress is a serious factor in determining overall health.”

“Now our findings indicate that people with higher long-term hair glucocorticoid levels appear significantly more likely to develop heart and circulatory diseases in particular,” she added.

After making adjustments for variables, including age, sex, waist circumference, smoking, blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes that are known to enhance the risk of CVD, the researchers found that those with greater long-term cortisone levels had a doubled risk of having a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, and that risk increased to over a tripled risk in those 57 years of age or younger.

However, they could not discover a clear connection between the prevalence of CVD in people aged 57 and older and hair cortisone or cortisol.

“Our hope is that hair analysis may ultimately prove useful as a test that can help clinicians determine which individuals might be at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” Professor Elisabeth van Rossum, the study's primary investigator from Erasmus University Medical Centre, said.

“Then, perhaps in the future targeting the effects of stress hormones in the body could become a new treatment target,” she added.

The researchers noted that the majority of participants self-identified as white and were from one region of the Netherlands, so the findings might not be generalizable to other populations. They also acknowledged that the study had several limitations, including that it was observational and did not prove that stress causes CVD but did indicate that they are linked to one another.

In addition, the researchers noted that although they took into account characteristics such as age, sex, waist circumference, smoking, blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, there may still be other unmeasured variables that could have affected the outcomes.

Be first to post your comments

Post your comment

Related Articles

Ad 5