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Associations of Stressful Life Events and Social Strain With Incident Cardiovascular Disease in the Women's Health Initiative
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  • Description:
    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.

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  • Funding:
    HHSN268201100001C/PHS HHS/United States
    HHSN268201100002C/PHS HHS/United States
    HHSN268201100003C/PHS HHS/United States
    HHSN268201100004C/PHS HHS/United States
    HHSN268201100046C/PHS HHS/United States
    HHSN271201100004C/PHS HHS/United States
    N01-HC-95164/HC/NHLBI NIH HHS/United States
    P20 MD006899/MD/NIMHD NIH HHS/United States
    P30 DK079626/DK/NIDDK NIH HHS/United States
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