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Relation Between Leukocyte Telomere Length and Incident Coronary Heart Disease Events (from the 1995 Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey)


Leukocyte telomere length has been proposed as a biomarker of cellular aging and atherosclerosis. The aim of this study was to determine whether leukocyte telomere length is independently associated with incident coronary heart disease (CHD) in the general population. Telomere length was measured using a polymerase chain reaction method for participants enrolled in the 1995 Nova Scotia Health Survey (NSHS95; n = 1,917). The primary end point was the first occurrence of a fatal or nonfatal CHD event. During a mean follow-up period of 8.7 years, 164 fatal or nonfatal CHD events occurred. Compared with participants in the longest tertile of telomere length, those in the middle and shortest tertiles had increased incidence of CHD events (6.2, 11.2, and 12.2 per 1,000 person-years, respectively). After adjustment for demographics, traditional risk factors, and inflammatory markers including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1, those in the middle tertile had significantly elevated risk for incident CHD (hazard ratio 1.63, 95% confidence interval 1.07 to 2.51, p = 0.02) compared with the longest tertile, whereas the risk for those in the shortest tertile was nonsignificantly elevated (hazard ratio 1.25, 95% confidence interval 0.82 to 1.90, p = 0.30). In conclusion, these findings do not support a linear association between leukocyte telomere length and incident CHD risk in the general population.

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