Introduction and objectives: Telomeres are noncoding regions located at the end of chromosomes and their shortening has been associated with risk factors and cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between ideal cardiovascular health (Life's simple 7) and the odds of having short telomeres in a subsample of participants older than 55 years from the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) study.
Methods: We included 886 participants older than 55 years (645 men and 241 women). Telomere length was measured using a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Cardiovascular health score was defined by the American Heart Association as a composite score of 7 key risk factors (smoking status, physical activity, diet, body mass index, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and fasting blood glucose) with 0 to 2 points for each factor. We categorized this score in tertiles as poor (0-9 points), intermediate (10-11 points) and ideal (12-14 points). The odds of having short telomeres was defined as telomere length below the 20th percentile.
Results: Individuals with higher ideal cardiovascular health had a lower prevalence of having short telomeres (adjusted OR, 0.60; 95%CI, 0.34-1.05; P trend = .052). This association was statistically significant in men (adjusted OR, 0.37; 95%CI, 0.17-0.83; P trend = .025) but not in women.
Conclusions: An inverse association between cardiovascular health score and short telomeres was found especially for men older than 55 years in the SUN population.