Low levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in blood were associated with higher stroke risk in a new analysis of postmenopausal women who had been enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study. The results indicate a potential role for hormonal screening as part of managing stroke risk, researchers suggested.
The study evaluated the link between the protein and risk for ischemic stroke in a cohort of more than 13,000 women who had been WHI participants and had been followed long term. The findings are slated to be shared in an oral presentation at the International Stroke Conference, which runs from February 19-21 in Los Angeles.
The risk for those with low SHBG was 51% higher than for those with the highest levels, after adjusting for a wide range of factors including age, race, body mass index, alcohol use, and smoking. After adjustments were made for those with diabetes, low SHBG was associated with a 46% higher risk for ischemic stroke.
The results shed more light on the links between women's hormonal health and adverse events over the long term, the researchers said in a statement released by the American Heart Association. The SHBG protein binds to estradiol and testosterone, and low levels indicate that more hormones are active in body tissues, which could explain the differences in risk for stroke.
Further research is needed to determine what SHBG screening could add to current assessments for stroke risk, the investigators concluded.