DHEA may reduce the risk of you developing stroke. A recent article in the American Heart Association journal Stroke concluded that lower levels of DHEA (short for the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) was associated with a greater risk of having a stroke in older women. The study was performed at the, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health, and the findings appeared online in the journal on May 23, 2013.

The researchers studies women who had no history of stroke upon enrollment in the Nurses’ Health Study in 1976. This is a long term ongoing study to determine cause and effect of multiple variable. They took blood from these women annually and stored the blood samples for further analysis. The samples taken between 1989 and 1990 were analyzed for DHEA sulfate levels.

The study consisted of 461participants in whom stroke had occurred over the subsequent years. They were compared with control subjects who did not have strokes. The study patients and control patients were matched according age, race, menopausal status and other factors with an equal number in each group.

The results of the study showed that women who experienced a stroke were more likely to have lower DHEAS levels. In those women who’s DHEAS levels were in the lowest 25% of participants, their adjusted risk of experiencing an ischemic stroke was 33% higher than that of women whose levels were among the top 25%. When they adjusted the results even further, the analysis increased the percentage to 41%. In addition, women who experienced stroke were more likely to be diabetic and have a history of high blood pressure in comparison with the control group.

The authors of the study proposed a mechanism of action for these results. DHEA inhibits the migration and proliferation of vascular wall cells, and stimulates vascular smooth muscle cell apoptosis. This reduces vascular remodeling subsequent to injury. Thus, DHEA can influence the development of cardiovascular disease and stroke through these mechanisms.

They concluded, “To our knowledge, this is the first report to evaluate DHEAS levels and risk of ischemic stroke…In this cohort of older women, these results suggest evidence for an inverse association between DHEAS and risk of ischemic stroke, where lower levels of DHEAS were associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke. There was an indication that an elevated risk of ischemic stroke associated with low DHEAS levels in this population may be strongest among diabetics, younger women (<65 years) and never smokers.”

As always, additional research is warranted to confirm these associations in other populations. However, it doesn’t hurt to make sure your body has a good level of DHEAS floating in your serum. If you need supplementation, taking a small tablet daily may help decrease your risk of developing ischemic stroke, as this article suggests.


Monik C. Jimenez, ScD, et al, “Lw Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate is Associated with Increased Risk of Ischemic Stroke Among Women”, Stroke, 2013;44:1784-1789.