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Psychosom Med. 2018 Jun;80(5):460-467. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000592.

Association Between Alexithymia and Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Diseases in the SUpplémentation en VItamines et Minéraux AntioXydants (SU.VI.MAX) Cohort.

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From the Université Paris Descartes (Wiernik, Lemogne), Sorbonne Paris Cité, Faculté de Médecine; Inserm, U894 (Wiernik, Lemogne), Centre Psychiatrie et Neurosciences; AP-HP (Lemogne), Hôpitaux Universitaires Paris Ouest, Service de Psychiatrie de l'adulte et du sujet âgé; Equipe de Recherche en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle (EREN) (Fezeu, Arnault, Hercberg, Kesse-Guyot, Galan), Centre de Recherche en Epidémiologie et Statistiques Sorbonne Paris Cité, Inserm (U1153), Inra (U1125), Cnam, COMUE Sorbonne Paris Cité, SMBH Université Paris 13, Bobigny; and Département de Santé Publique (Hercberg), Hôpital Avicenne, Bobigny, France.



Although it has been suggested that alexythymia is associated with cardiovascular diseases, studies are scarce and a causal relationship is questionable. This study explored the prospective association between alexithymia and cardiovascular events in middle-aged participants without cardiovascular history at baseline.


The 26-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-26) was completed by 5586 participants of the French SUpplémentation en VItamines et Minéraux AntioXydants cohort (41.4% of men, M [SD] age = 52.2 [6.3] years) in 1996-1997. Covariates measured at baseline included age, occupational status, depressive symptoms, smoking status, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertriglyceridemia. The follow-up ran from January 1, 1998, to the date of the first cardiovascular event, the date of death or September 1, 2007, whichever occurred first. Cardiovascular events were validated by an independent expert committee. Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals were computed with Cox regressions.


During an average of 8.9 years of follow-up, 171 first cardiovascular events were validated. After adjustment for age, sex, and occupational status, there was no association between baseline alexithymia and cardiovascular events at follow-up (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval] for 15 points of TAS-26 = 1.00 [0.81-1.23], p > .99). Adjusting for all covariates, using binary TAS-26 cut-offs or TAS-26 subscores yielded similar nonsignificant results.


In this large prospective study, alexithymia and cardiovascular events were not associated among a nonclinical population. This casts some doubt on whether alexithymia could be a meaningful target in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.


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