Background: Studies of truck drivers and cardiovascular disease (CVD), myocardial infarction, or ischemic heart disease (IHD) are limited, although studies of other professional drivers reported increased risk.
Methods: US mortality data from 1979 to 1990 for ages 15-90 were used to calculate proportional mortality ratios (PMRs) for heart disease and lung cancer for short and long haul truck drivers. Analysis was performed for Black (998 short haul and 13,241 long haul) truck drivers and White (4,929 short and 74,315 long haul) truck drivers separately.
Results: The highest significantly elevated proportionate heart disease (IHD, acute myocardial infarction (AMI), and other forms of heart disease) and lung cancer mortality was found for White and Black male long haul truck drivers age 15-54. Mortality was not significantly elevated for short haul truck drivers of either race or gender, nor for truck drivers who died after age 65, except for lung cancer among White males. An indirect adjustment suggested that smoking could explain the excess IHD mortality, but no direct data for smoking or the other known risk factors for heart disease were available and occupational exposures were not measured.
Conclusions: The highest significant excess proportionate mortality for lung cancer, IHD and AMI was found for long haul truck drivers who were under age 55 at death. A cohort or longitudinal study of heart disease among long haul truck drivers, that obtains data for occupational exposures as well as lifestyle risk factors, could help explain inconsistencies between the findings of this and previous studies.