Middle-aged and older folks with elevated levels of a thyroid hormone may face a higher risk of developing hardened blood vessels, a new Dutch study suggests.
Hardened blood vessels (atherosclerosis) develop when plaque builds up on blood vessel walls. This condition is a risk factor for heart disease.
“Coronary heart disease and stroke remain a leading cause of mortality worldwide, despite advances in prevention and treatment,” study author Dr. Arjola Bano said in a news release from The Endocrine Society.
Therefore, identifying additional modifiable risk factors for hardened blood vessels is important, he said.
“These findings suggest that thyroid hormone measurement can help identify individuals at risk for atherosclerosis, and may have future implications for the prevention of atherosclerotic morbidity and mortality,” Bano said. He’s a doctoral candidate at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam.
To explore the issue, the researchers spent an average of eight years tracking about 9,800 Dutch men and women. The participants were about 65 years old, on average.
During the study, nearly 600 participants were determined to have died due to plaque build-up in the blood vessels. Roughly 1,100 experienced some kind of a problematic event related to hardened blood vessels.
The research team concluded that those who had higher levels of what’s called “free thyroxine,” or FT4, faced a higher risk for plaque build-up and heart disease complications.
Bano and his team presented their findings Saturday at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in Orlando, Fla. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
There’s more on atherosclerosis at the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.