Prospective analysis of gender-related characteristics in relation to cardiovascular disease

Heart. 2022 Jun 10;108(13):1030-1038. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2021-320414.


Objective: Differences in cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence between men and women have been widely reported. Next to sex-related (biological) characteristics, gender-related (sociocultural) characteristics may partly explain how these differences arise. In this exploratory study, we examined the associations between selected gender-related characteristics and CVD incidence.

Methods: We linked baseline data of 18 058 participants without CVD from the population-based, multiethnic HEalthy LIfe in an Urban Setting study (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) to CVD incidence data, based on hospital admission and death records from Statistics Netherlands in 2013-2018. Using Cox regression analyses, we studied associations of time spent on household work, doing home repairs, primary earner status, type of employment, working in a male-dominated or female-dominated occupation and desire for emotional support with CVD incidence, stratified by sex. Analyses were adjusted for age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Results: In men, gender-related characteristics were not associated with higher CVD incidence. In women, homemakers had a higher hazard for CVD compared with full-time workers (HR 2.34, 95% CI 1.35 to 4.04), whereas those spending a moderate amount of time on household work had a lower hazard for CVD than those spending little time (HR 0.56, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.95).

Conclusion: Although we found no evidence for associations between gender-related characteristics and CVD incidence in men, being the homemaker and moderate time spent on household work appeared to be associated with CVD incidence in women. Thus, attention to gender-related characteristics might in future help to identify subgroups that may benefit from additional prevention strategies.

Keywords: coronary artery disease; epidemiology; heart failure; risk factors; stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors