Lifestyle risk factors and infectious disease mortality, including COVID-19, among middle aged and older adults: Evidence from a community-based cohort study in the United Kingdom

Brain Behav Immun. 2021 Apr 30;S0889-1591(21)00180-X. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2021.04.022. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

In this community-based cohort study, we investigated the relationship between combinations of modifiable lifestyle risk factors and infectious disease mortality. Participants were 468,569 men and women (56.5 ± 8.1, 54.6% women) residing in the United Kingdom. Lifestyle indexes included traditional and emerging lifestyle risk factors based on health guidelines and best practice recommendations for: physical activity, sedentary behaviour, sleep quality, diet quality, alcohol consumption, and smoking status. The main outcome was mortality from infectious diseases, including pneumonia, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Meeting public health guidelines or best practice recommendations among combinations of lifestyle risk factors was inversely associated with mortality. Hazard ratios ranged between 0.26 (0.23-0.30) to 0.69 (0.60-0.79) for infectious disease and pneumonia. Among participants with pre-existing cardiovascular disease or cancer, hazard ratios ranged between 0.30 (0.25-0.34) to 0.73 (0.60-0.89). COVID-19 mortality risk ranged between 0.42 (0.28-0.63) to 0.75 (0.49-1.13). We found a beneficial dose-response association with a higher lifestyle index against mortality that was consistent across sex, age, BMI, and socioeconomic status. There was limited evidence of synergistic interactions between most lifestyle behaviour pairs, suggesting that the dose-response relationship among different lifestyle behaviours is not greater than the sum of the risk induced by each behaviour. Improvements in lifestyle risk factors and meeting public health guidelines or best practice recommendations could be used as an ancillary measure to ameliorate infectious disease mortality.

Keywords: Physical activity; alcohol; diet; population cohort; sedentary behaviour; sleep; smoking.