Short leucocyte telomere length (LTL) might be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The present study examines the relation between LTL and incident fatal or non-fatal CVD, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and stroke in a Danish cohort followed for 29 years.
In total, 1,397 men and women who participated in health examinations with blood sampling in 1981-1984 were followed for CVD outcomes until the end of 2012 by linkage to national registers. Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to analyse the relation between LTL and CVD adjusting for potential confounding CVD risk factors.
During the follow-up, 603 participants experienced an incident fatal or non-fatal CVD. The survival analysis showed that baseline LTL was not associated with CVD outcomes. In the subanalysis with IHD as outcome, those with middle and short LTL had an increased hazard rate ratio of 1.97 (95% CI 1.31-2.93) and 1.55 (95% CI 1.02-2.35), respectively, which was attenuated when confounding factors were adjusted for. For stroke, the pattern of associations was similar but less precisely estimated.
In this study short, LTL was not associated with an increased risk of CVD, but modestly associated with an increased risk of IHD.