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mdash;: Recent studies have shown that individuals with shorter telomeres present a higher prevalence of arterial lesions and higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. As a group, patients with high blood pressure are at an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. However, some hypertensive patients are more prone than others to atherosclerotic lesions. The main objective of this study was to examine the relationship between telomere length, as expressed in white blood cells, and carotid artery atherosclerotic plaques in hypertensive males. Data from 163 treated hypertensive men who were volunteers for a free medical examination were analyzed. Extracranial carotid plaques were assessed with B-mode ultrasound. Telomere length was measured from DNA samples extracted from white blood cells. The results of this study show that telomere length was shorter in hypertensive men with carotid artery plaques versus hypertensive men without plaques (8.17 /-0.07 kb versus 8.46 /-0.07 kb; P <0.01). Multivariate analysis showed that in addition to age, telomere length was a significant predictor of the presence of carotid artery plaques. The findings from this study suggest that in the presence of chronic hypertension, which is a major risk factor for atherosclerotic lesions, shorter telomere length in white blood cells is associated with an increased predilection to carotid artery atherosclerosis.

(C) 2004 American Heart Association, Inc.