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J Am Heart Assoc. 2014 Jun 27;3(3):e000687. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.113.000687.

Associations of stressful life events and social strain with incident cardiovascular disease in the Women's Health Initiative.

Author information

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL (K.N.K., M.L.D., L.V.H.).
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC (G.A.B.).
  • 3National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV (L.E.C.).
  • 4Departments of Preventive Medicine and Psychiatry, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN (M.C.).
  • 5Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL (K.N.K., M.L.D., L.V.H.) Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL (M.L.D.).
  • 6Department of Neurology, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Des Moines, IA (N.L.D.).
  • 7Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, CA (C.H.K.).
  • 8Department of Medicine, University of Alabama Birmingham, Birmingham, AL (M.M.S.).
  • 9Department of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA (T.S.).
  • 10Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (H.A.T.).
  • 11Women's Health Initiative, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA (L.F.T.).

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Epidemiologic studies have yielded mixed findings on the association of psychosocial stressors with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. In this study, we examined associations of stressful life events (SLE) and social strain with incident coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke (overall, and for hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes) independent of sociodemographic characteristics, and we evaluated whether these relationships were explained by traditional behavioral and biological risk factors.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Data from approximately 82 000 Women's Health Initiative Observational Study participants were used for the SLE and social strain analyses, respectively. Participants were followed for events for up to 18.0 years (median, 14.0). Separate Cox proportional hazards models were generated to estimate associations of each stress measure with incident CVD. After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and depressive symptoms, higher SLE and social strain were associated with higher incident CHD and stroke (each P trend <0.05). Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were 1.12 (1.01, 1.25) for incident CHD and 1.14 (1.01, 1.28) for incident stroke among participants reporting high versus low SLE. Findings were similar for social strain. Associations were attenuated with further adjustment for mediating behavioral and biological risk factors. Findings were similar for associations of SLE with ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke, but social strain was only associated with ischemic stroke.

CONCLUSIONS:

Higher SLE and social strain were associated with higher incident CVD independent of sociodemographic factors and depressive symptoms, but not behavioral and biological risk factors.

© 2014 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley Blackwell.

KEYWORDS:

cardiovascular diseases; epidemiology; stress

PMID:
24973226
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC4309050
Free PMC Article
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