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Age and Ageing

Year: 2010  |  Volume: 39  |  Issue: 2  |  Page No.: 223 - 227

Telomere length and psychological well-being in patients with chronic heart failure

J Huzen, P van der Harst, R. A de Boer, I Lesman Leegte, A. A Voors, W. H van Gilst, N. J Samani, T Jaarsma and D. J. van Veldhuisen


Background: psychological stress and depressive symptoms have been implicated with accelerated ageing and increased progression of diseases. Shorter telomere length indicates a more advanced biological age. It is unknown whether psychological well-being is associated with telomere length in patients with the somatic condition of chronic heart failure (CHF).

Design: a cross-sectional analysis was used.

Setting: patients were admitted to the hospital with signs and symptoms of CHF.

Objective: the study aimed to assess the association between telomere length and psychological well-being in patients with CHF.

Methods: telomere length was determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction in 890 patients with New York Heart Association functional class II to IV CHF. We evaluated the perceived mental health by the validated RAND-36 questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were assessed by the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CES-D), and the presence of type D personality was evaluated by the DS14.

Results: a lower perceived mental health on the RAND-36 score was associated with shorter telomere length. Adjustment for age and gender did not change our findings (standardised beta, 0.11; P-value, 0.002). Telomere length was not associated with the CES-D or DS14 score.

Conclusion: decreased perceived mental health is associated with shorter leukocyte telomere length in patients with CHF. Future work should determine whether psychological stress accelerates biological ageing.

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