Heart Disease and Cortisol

Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease though early detection

Chronic cortisol levels are a major risk factor for developing CVD’s and can be an early warning sign of a heart attack.

What is Cardiovascular heart disease?

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a term that refers to a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease and other conditions.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year.

More than four out of five CVD deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes, and one third of these deaths occur prematurely in people under 70 years of age.

Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Chronic cortisol levels
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Other conditions such as diabetes

Even if you have all of the risk factors for heart disease there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Some risk factors cannot be changed such as age and your family history but other factors such as your lifestyle and cortisol levels can. This can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Understanding risk factors

Risk factors are things that can raise your risk of developing heart conditions. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop heart and circulatory diseases like a heart attack or stroke.

The most important behavioral risk factors of heart disease and stroke is your lifestyle including stress, a unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.

The good news is many heart and circulatory diseases are caused by risk factors that can be controlled, treated or modified through early detection.

Signs and symptoms of heart disease

Symptoms of heart disease vary based on what condition you have and can include:

  • chest pain
  • pain, weakness or numb legs and/or arms
  • breathlessness
  • very fast or slow heartbeat, or palpitations
  • feeling dizzy, lightheaded or faint
  • fatigue
  • swollen limbs

Early detection and prevention of heart disease

There are several ways you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease such as:

  • Not smoking
  • eating a healthy diet
  • being physically active
  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Reducing stress
  • Managing chronic cortisol levels
  • Keeping your blood pressure under control
  • Managing other conditions such a diabetes

By detecting a health problem early you can make a range of lifestyle changes to improve your health or you may be able to get treatment early if needed.

Finding out about a problem early can mean that treatment is more effective.

How we can help?

We can check for underlying health problems and if you are at an increased risk of heart disease using a sample of your hair.

This test is called a COT test and it works by taking your average cortisol levels over the last 3 months.

This test is a good indication of your overall health and can be used to identify underlying endocrine conditions.

A COT test can help you manage your lifestyle and reduce your future risk of heart disease.

Not all risk factors are assessed by a COT test and other factors may increase your risk of heart disease.

How is this different to a blood test?

A COT test uses a sample of your hair to assess your cortisol levels over several months.

A blood test is only able to give you a short-term indication of your cortisol levels. Cortisol levels can change throughout the day so this can affect your results.

A sample of hair avoids having to take daily blood tests over several months and is more accurate than blood for testing your cortisol levels over time.

How will I get my results?

Before taking your test you will need to register your test kit online. You will receive an email when your results are ready and you will be able to view your results through your online portal.

If your results are abnormal one of our health professionals will call you to discuss this with you with information on what you can do next.

Cortigenix do not provide treatments but we will are able to discuss with you a range of options and appropriate services.

What will my results mean?

If you get a normal result this means that you are at lower risk of developing future chronic health problems. This does not mean you will never develop health problems in the future, just that you are at a lower risk at the moment.

If your results are abnormal it means you are at an increased risk of health problems in the future.

An abnormal result can indicate an underlying health problem but it does not diagnose the cause or the condition.

Further tests may be needed to investigate the cause and confirm if you have an underlying adrenal condition.

Finding out about a problem early can mean that treatment is more effective. However, screening tests are not perfect and they can lead to difficult decisions about having further tests or treatment.

References

Crawford et al., (2019). Morning plasma cortisol as a cardiovascular risk factor: Findings from a prospective cohort and Mendelian randomisation studies. European journal of Endocrinology, 4, 181.

Faresjö et al. (2020) Elevated levels of cortisol in hair precede acute myocardial infarction. Sci Rep 10, 22456. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-80559-9

Fraser et al (1999) Cortisol effects on body mass, blood pressure, and cholesterol in the general population. Hypertension, 33 1364– 1368. (https://doi.org/10.1161/01.HYP.33.6.1364)

Lob, E & Steptoe, A .(2019). Cardiovascular disease and hair cortisol: A novel biomarker of chronic stress. Curr Cardio Rep, 21, 116

Manenschijn et al. (2013) High Long-Term Cortisol Levels, Measured in Scalp Hair, Are Associated With a History of Cardiovascular Disease, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 98, Issue 5, 1 May 2013, Pages 2078–2083, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2012-3663

Nafisa et al., (2021) The association between chronic stress, hair cortisol, and angiographically documented coronary atherosclerosis, a case-control study, Stress, 24:6, 1008-1015, DOI: 10.1080/10253890.2021.1985994

Pereg et al., (2011) Hair cortisol and the risk for acute myocardial infarction in adult men, Stress, 14:1, 73-81, DOI: 10.3109/10253890.2010.511352

Vogelzangs et al., (2010). Urinary cortisol and six-year risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Nov;95(11):4959-64. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-0192.

Walker, Brian. (2021). GWAMA summary data for morning plasma cortisol from the Cortisol Network (CORNET) Consortium 2021 (n=25,314). Cortisol Network (CORNET) Consortium; University of Edinburgh. https://doi.org/10.7488/ds/2986.

Whitworth et al., (2005). Cardiovascular consequences of cortisol excess. Vascular health risk management, 1, 4, 291-299

Buy now

Know your inner health. One simple test.