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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1995 Dec;43(12):1345-9.

High density lipoprotein cholesterol is associated with serum cortisol in older people.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157-1051, USA.



To determine the associations between serum cortisol and HDL cholesterol, other lipoprotein lipids and cardiovascular risk factors, carotid atherosclerosis, and clinical heart disease in older people.


A cross-sectional, observational, ancillary study of the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS).


A total of 245 community-dwelling people, 65 to 89 years old, were recruited consecutively for a 2-month period from the CHS cohort in Forsyth County, North Carolina.


Cortisol was measured by radioimmunoassay in serum collected between 7:00 and 10:00 AM after an overnight fast. Cortisol levels were correlated with lipoprotein lipids, insulin, glucose, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, prevalent coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and carotid atherosclerosis by B-mode ultrasound.


Serum cortisol was correlated negatively (r = -.24) with body mass index and waist-hip ratio (r = -.16) but was not related significantly to fasting insulin or glucose. Cortisol was not associated significantly with triglyceride and low density lipoprotein cholesterol but showed a positive correlation (r = .21) with high density lipoprotein cholesterol. The relationship between cortisol and high density lipoprotein cholesterol persisted after adjustment for gender, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, cigarette and alcohol use, triglyceride level, and diabetes. There was a trend toward a negative correlation between cortisol and measures of carotid atherosclerosis, but no significant relationship was indicated between cortisol and prevalent coronary heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes.


Endogenous glucocorticoid levels correlated with HDL cholesterol levels and may play a role in the physiologic regulation of high density lipoprotein levels in older people.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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