IQ in late adolescence/early adulthood, risk factors in middle-age and later coronary heart disease mortality in men: the Vietnam Experience Study

Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2008 Jun;15(3):359-61. doi: 10.1097/HJR.0b013e3282f738a6.


Objective: Examine the relation between IQ in early adulthood and later coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality, and assess the extent to which established risk factors measured in middle-age might explain this gradient.

Design: Cohort study of 4316 male former Vietnam-era US army personnel with IQ scores (mean age 20.4 years), risk factor data (mean age 38.3 years) and 15 years mortality surveillance.

Results: In age-adjusted analyses, lower IQ scores were associated with an increased rate of CHD mortality (hazard ratio per SD decrease in IQ; 95% confidence interval: 1.34; 1.00, 1.79). Adjustment for later chronic disease (1.22; 0.91, 1.64), behavioural (1.29; 0.95, 1.74) and physiological risk factors (1.19; 0.88, 1.62) led to some attenuation of this gradient. This attenuation was particularly pronounced on adding socioeconomic indices to the multivariable model when the IQ-CHD relation was eliminated (1.05; 0.73, 1.52). A similar pattern of association was apparent when cardiovascular disease was the outcome of interest.

Conclusion: High IQ may lead to educational success, well remunerated and higher prestige employment, and this pathway may confer cardio-protection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Coronary Disease / mortality*
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States