Early age-related macular degeneration (AMD) doubles your risk of dying from heart attack or stroke, according to a study in the April issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology. The authors of the study believe that early AMD has several cardiovascular risk factors in common with heart disease or stroke.

AMD is linked to heart attack and stroke.
Image courtesy: National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
A research team at the University of Sydney analyzed 3,654 randomly selected participants over the age of 49. The team performed physical examinations on each participant, and included patient history and retinal photographs. After five years, 2,335 participants were re-examined; 1,952 were re-examined after 10 years.

At the 10-year follow-up, the team found that there were 183 cardiovascular-related deaths, 99 stroke-related deaths, and 17 stroke- and cardiovascular-related deaths. From these figures, the researchers determined that participants younger than 75 years of age with early AMD are twice as likely to die from a heart attack or stroke.

More alarming, their results showed that participants with advanced or late AMD are five times more likely to die from a heart attack, and 10 times more likely to die from a stroke.

The researchers also expressed concern that certain AMD treatments, such as anti-VEGF therapy, may increase cardiovascular risk. However, they said more studies confirming this link would be needed before any recommendations are made.

Tan JS, Wang JJ, Liew G, et al. Age-related macular degeneration and mortality from cardiovascular disease or stroke. Br J Ophthalmol 2008 Apr;92(4):509-12.


Vol. No: 145:04Issue: 4/15/2008