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ENDO: Testosterone Levels Linked to CHD in Women

Researchers find a tripled risk of coronary heart disease in women with the highest levels

TUESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Older women with higher testosterone levels are at significantly higher risk of coronary heart disease and increased carotid intimal-medial thickness than women with lower levels, according to research presented this week at ENDO 2006, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, in Boston.

Shrita M. Patel, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues studied 344 women aged 65 to 98 enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study.

The researchers found that women in the top quartile of total testosterone were three times more likely to have coronary heart disease than those in the second quartile and that those in the lowest quartile had an intermediate coronary heart disease risk. They also found that women in the top quartiles of total and free testosterone were three to four times more likely to have significant intimal-medial thickness compared with those in the bottom quartile.

"Whether testosterone is a marker of insulin resistance or an actual mediator of atherogenesis in these women is unknown," the authors conclude. "Women with low total and free testosterone levels were slightly more likely to have coronary heart disease, perhaps reflective of underlying systemic illness. Future prospective studies examining the relationship between testosterone and coronary heart disease in older women may clarify the role of testosterone, if any, in cardiovascular disease progression."

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