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J Hum Hypertens. 2011 Jul;25(7):418-24. doi: 10.1038/jhh.2011.6. Epub 2011 Feb 10.

Cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, their ratio and hypertension: evidence of associations in male veterans from the Vietnam Experience Study.

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School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.


Although clinical observations implicate cortisol in hypertension, the epidemiological evidence is less compelling. Little is known about the relationship between dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS) and hypertension, and nothing about the association with the cortisol:DHEAS ratio. The present analyses of data obtained from Vietnam-era US veterans examined the associations between cortisol, DHEAS, their ratio and hypertension. Participants were 4180 male veterans. From military files, telephone interviews and a medical examination, sociodemographic and health data were collected. At medical examination, a fasted morning blood sample was collected to assay serum cortisol and DHEAS, blood pressure measured and body mass index (BMI) determined. Hypertension was defined by having one of the following: a reported physician diagnosis, taking antihypertensive medication, an average systolic blood pressure ≥ 140 mm Hg and an average diastolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mm Hg. Cortisol and the cortisol:DHEAS ratio were positively associated with hypertension (P < 0.001), whereas DHEAS was negatively associated; the latter relationship was attenuated to non-significance (P = 0.06) in models that adjusted for age, sociodemographics, place of service, health behaviours and BMI. The present analyses provide confirmation of a positive association between cortisol and the cortisol:DHEAS ratio and population hypertension.

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