DHEA (dehydroepiandroste-rone) improves blood flow and other measures of vascular health, report researchers at Australia’s Monash University.*
Epidemiological studies have linked age-related decline in DHEA levels with decreased longevity and an increased risk of heart disease. The Australian team’s findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, help elucidate the mechanisms by which DHEA benefits the cardiovascular system.
Using in-vitro studies, the investigators demonstrated that DHEA, like estrogen and testosterone, stimulates endothelial cells to divide. The endothelial cells lining blood vessels are critically important in cardiovascular health, as injury to such cells leads to the formation and progression of atherosclerotic plaque. DHEA expands the endothelial cell pool, possibly providing a ready source of cells able to “patch” areas of blood vessel injury. Additionally, DHEA provoked endothelial cells to produce greater amounts of nitric oxide, a vasodilator and powerful protector of the heart and blood vessels. DHEA exerted its effects on endothelial cells independently of both estrogen and androgen receptors.
The researchers also administered 100 mg per day of DHEA to 36 healthy postmenopausal women for three months. Using measures of blood vessel function, they showed that DHEA increased blood vessel dilation and reduced blood pressure. Moreover, DHEA supplementation led to increased blood flow and reduced cholesterol levels.
DHEA appears to be both safe and effective in improving cardiovascular health. Its mechanisms of action include optimizing blood flow, blood pressure, and cholesterol, in addition to supporting the health of endothelial cells. As DHEA supplements may be contraindicated in those with a history of hormone-related cancer, always consult with your physician before considering supplementation.
—Linda M. Smith, RN