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Early AMD May Increase Heart Disease Risk in Older Adults

Findings suggest link to underlying systemic atherosclerotic vascular disease

TUESDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults with early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may be at higher risk of coronary heart disease, according to the Cardiovascular Health Study published in the October issue of Ophthalmology.

Cong Sun, M.D., of the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,786 Caucasian and African-American subjects who were free of coronary heart disease at baseline and 2,228 who were free of stroke. Subjects ranged in age from 69 to 97 years.

The researchers found that 303 subjects who were free of coronary heart disease developed the condition over a seven year period. Subjects with early AMD had a higher incidence of coronary heart disease than those without early AMD (25.8 versus 18.9 percent). After adjustment for a variety of factors, the researchers demonstrated a higher risk of incident coronary heart disease associated with early AMD, but not with late AMD. Both early and late AMD were not associated with incident stroke.

"In conclusion, in this older cohort, we found that early AMD signs were associated with incident coronary heart disease events, although not incident stroke," the authors write. "Our findings suggest that AMD may be associated with underlying systemic atherosclerotic vascular disease and may have broader implications of cardiovascular safety for the many patients with AMD who are treated with long-term anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy."

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