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J Cardiovasc Risk. 1996 Apr;3(2):183-90.

Social relationships and myocardial infarction: a case-control study.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Ostra Hospital, Göteborg University, Sweden.



For more than 10 years there has been increasing evidence that not only biological risk factors are important for the development of coronary heart disease. The present study is one of a series of case-control studies in which a wide range of psychosocial factors in the same population have been analysed to obtain information on their relationship with myocardial infarction, and of the interaction between psychosocial and biomedical variables.


The association between social relationships and nonfatal myocardial infarction was studied by comparing consecutively admitted male (n = 288) and female (n = 55) patients with myocardial infarction with a population sample of 283 men and 129 women. All participants were under 65 years of age. The social relationships were investigated by means of a self-administered questionnaire.


Men with myocardial infarction reported significantly lower perceived emotional support compared with their controls, as well as less social activity. Women with myocardial infarction reported significantly less social activity than their controls. There were no significant differences between cases and controls in social integration (number and frequency of social relationships and contacts). Neither did dissatisfaction with social relationships differ significantly between patients with myocardial infarction and controls. After controlling for traditional risk factors (smoking, hypertension, serum cholesterol level, diabetes) perceived emotional support remained significantly related to myocardial infarction in men, and so did the amount of social activity in both men and women.


The importance of perceived emotional support and lack of social activity is amplified by the fact that they are related to myocardial infarction independently of conventional biomedical risk factors. These social factors should be studied further in prospective investigations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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