Parathyroid hormone levels predict CV mortality in the community

Parathyroid hormone levels predict CV mortality in the community

Reported June 03, 2009

Uppsala, Sweden – A new analysis of a Swedish study of elderly men has found that plasma parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels predict cardiovascular mortality, even in those with normal levels of this hormone [1]. Dr Emil Hagström (Uppsala Clinical Research Center, Sweden) and colleagues publish their findings in the June 2, 2009 issue of Circulation.

Hagström explained to heartwire that previous studies of this kind have looked at patients with diseases of mineral metabolism and that it is recognized that such patients—those with elevated PTH levels resulting from primary or secondary hyperparathyroidism—are at higher risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

But the association they found between CV death and PTH levels among those with normal levels of the hormone “was unexpectedly strong and similar to that seen in those with hyperparathyroidism,” he notes. The risk of CV death associated with PTH levels was also similar in magnitude to that of other risk factors, such as smoking and diabetes, he added.

But whether PTH is a causal factor or whether PTH levels merely reflect other abnormalities along the mineral metabolism pathway that predispose to a higher risk for cardiovascular mortality cannot be answered by these observational data, he notes. But “regardless of where in the chain it is, [PTH] may still help to improve classical risk prediction models, to sharpen them,” says Hagström.



Findings will need to be replicated and validated

Using data from the Uppsala Longitudinal Study of Adult Men (ULSAM), a community-based cohort of men with a mean age of 71, Hagström et al investigated the association between plasma PTH levels and cardiovascular mortality. During a median of 10 years of follow-up, 117 of the 958 participants died of cardiovascular causes.

In multivariate adjustment models, higher plasma PTH was associated with a higher risk for CV mortality (HR for one standard-deviation increase in PTH 1.38; p<0.001). This association remained essentially unaltered in those without previous CVD and in those with normal PTH (<6.8 pmol/L) with no other signs of a disturbed mineral metabolism, say the researchers.

Elevated plasma PTH (>5.27 pmol/L) accounted for 20% of the population-attributable risk proportion for cardiovascular mortality, indicating that the findings could have substantial public-health implications, Hagström said.

But they emphasize that their new findings “should not be construed as implying a direct benefit of a reduction of PTH lowering in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in the community.” Future research will be needed to answer this question, and the current findings will need to be validated and replicated in women, in younger populations, and in other ethnic groups, they say.

Ongoing randomized trials are examining whether a reduction in PTH levels by calcimimetic treatment will reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events in patients with secondary hyperparathyroidism caused by renal failure, the researchers note.