MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Arjola Bano, MD, DSc
Departments of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology
Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Atherosclerosis is a chronic condition, characterized by the accumulation of lipids and fibrous elements in the arterial walls. It can progress insidiously from an asymptomatic narrowing of the arterial lumen (subclinical phase) to the clinical onset of vascular events (as coronary heart disease or stroke) and death. Despite advances in prevention and treatment, atherosclerotic diseases remain a leading cause of mortality worldwide. Therefore, identifying additional modifiable risk factors for atherosclerosis is of major importance.
So far, the role of thyroid hormone on atherosclerosis remains unclear. Moreover, a comprehensive investigation exploring the link of thyroid function with the wide spectrum of atherosclerosis, including subclinical atherosclerosis, clinical atherosclerosis and atherosclerotic mortality, within the same population is lacking.
Therefore, in a prospective study of 9231 middle-aged and elderly people, we explored the association of thyroid function with subclinical atherosclerosis (coronary artery calcification), atherosclerotic events (fatal and nonfatal coronary heart disease or stroke) and atherosclerotic mortality (death from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular or other atherosclerotic disease). Higher free thyroxine (FT4) levels were associated with higher risk of subclinical atherosclerosis, atherosclerotic events and atherosclerotic mortality, independently of cardiovascular risk factors.
The risk of atherosclerotic mortality increased with higher FT4 levels (HR; CI: 2.35; 1.61-3.41 per 1 ng/dl) and lower thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels (HR; CI: 0.92; 0.84-1.00 per 1 logTSH), with stronger estimates among participants with a history of atherosclerotic disease (HR; CI: 5.76; 2.79-11.89 for FT4 and 0.81; 0.69-0.95 for TSH).