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Age-Related Macular Degeneration May Predict Heart Disease

October 13, 2009

Adapted from the American Academy of Ophthalmology

A large study found strong evidence that older people who have age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are at increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), although not for stroke. This result adds to mounting evidence that AMD and cardiovascular disease may share some risk factors—smoking, high blood pressure, inflammatory indicators such as C-reactive protein, genetic variants such as complement factor H–and disease mechanisms. The Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS) followed 1,786 white or African American participants, who were free of CHD or stroke at the study's outset, for about seven years.

The incidence of CHD was 25.76 percent in patients with AMD, compared with 18.9 percent in those without AMD. The association between AMD and CHD was somewhat stronger in people age 69 to 78 than age 79 and up. Data were adjusted to counter potentially confounding factors like hypertension, diabetes, and smoking.

"Like the recent findings on older Medicare beneficiaries, our study shows that early AMD may predict the development of CHD in an older population," said CHS researcher Tien Yin Wong, M.D., PhD.

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