Chronic psychosocial stress predicts long-term cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in middle-aged men

Eur Heart J. 2004 May;25(10):867-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ehj.2004.03.003.


Aims: To prospectively investigate the association between self-reported psychosocial stress and long-term cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality in a population-based cohort.

Methods and results: The Malmö Preventive Project is a population-based screening and intervention programme for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. Between 1974 and 1980, a total of 13,609 (2741 women) individuals, mean age 45 years, had self-reported chronic stress determined by questionnaire. CV morbidity and mortality were followed up in national registries. Median follow-up time was 21 years. The risk ratio (RR) for a fatal or nonfatal CV incident in the men and women of the group reporting chronic stress was 1.27 (95% CI 1.15-1.39). After stepwise adjustments for known CV risk factors, the RR was reduced to 1.14 (1.02-1.28). The highest RR was found for fatal stroke in men reporting chronic stress, 2.04 (1.07-3.88). For women alone, there was no significant increase in risk after adjustments.

Conclusion: Self-reported chronic stress is an independent risk factor for CVD, particularly fatal stroke, in middle-aged men; it continues to be a risk factor after adjustment for several other known risk factors. The adjustment itself might reflect mechanisms whereby psychosocial stress directly or indirectly exerts its effects on the body, indicating a possible over-adjustment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries
  • Stress, Psychological / mortality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Urban Health