Cortisol Levels Influence Death Rate

Photo: Picture of a heart with a stethoscope

High levels of cortison seem
to be a serious warning for
heart patients; © SXC

Growing evidence suggests that serum cortisol levels are associated with increased cardiovascular mortality in patients with chronic heart failure, new research shows.

Until now, the significance of cortisol levels in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) has been unknown, according to the researchers. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland. Amongst other actions, it modifies our reactions to stress and anxiety, regulates blood pressure and helps to keep blood sugar levels within normal ranges. Now a group of researchers headed by Andreas Tomaschitz at the Medical University of Graz-Austria have used the information from a German heart study to show the link between serum cortisol levels and increased mortality in patients with acute coronary syndrome.

The study is an ongoing trial designed to investigate the effects of genetic and other biological traits on the cardiovascular system. It has enrolled over 3000 participants for coronary angiography.

For this work, 1036 patients with acute coronary syndrome were studied for an average period of 7.7 years. There were no significant differences in the serum cortisol levels between patients with and without acute coronary syndrome. However, the patients with acute coronary syndrome and high cortisol levels had a significantly elevated number of deaths when compared to the patients with acute coronary syndrome and the lowest cortisol levels.

758 total deaths were reported during the follow-up period. The acute coronary syndrome patients with the highest cortisol levels (the highest 25 percent serum cortisol) were significantly more likely to die from fatal cardiovascular events than those with the lowest cortisol levels (the lowest 25 percent serum cortisol).; Source: European Society of Endocrinology