We prospectively examined the association between alexithymia and risk of death over an average follow-up time of nearly 5.5 years in 42- to 60-year-old men (N = 2297) participating in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD). Alexithymia, impairment in identification, processing, and verbal expression of inner feelings, was assessed by the validated Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS) In age-adjusted survival analyses, men in the highest alexithymia quintile had a twofold greater risk of all-cause death (p
A number of psychosomatic studies have suggested that alexithymia, impairment in identifying and expressing inner feelings, might somehow affect the course of various illnesses. However, none of these studies have distinguished between an impact of alexithymia on actual pathophysiological change versus an impact only on illness behavior. In the present study, a population-based random sample of 2297 middle-aged men from Eastern Finland was evaluated for alexithymia using the Finnish version of the self-report Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS). Although high TAS scores were associated with prior diagnosis of coronary heart disease (CHD), they were not associated with greater prevalence of ischemia on an exercise tolerance test. The results of B-mode ultrasonography of the carotid artery for those who had a CHD diagnosis showed that carotid atherosclerosis actually decreased significantly as alexithymia increased. An interaction analysis indicated that alexithymia was related to increased probability of being diagnosed with CHD only among those who had mildly or moderately progressed carotid atherosclerosis, and not among those with the most severe progression. Alexithymia was associated with higher perceived exertion, and to some extent, with more self-reported symptoms during the exercise tolerance test. The findings support the hypothesis that alexithymia relates to increased symptom reporting rather than pathophysiological changes in CHD. The results also suggest that alexithymic men may get diagnosed earlier, perhaps because of their different illness behavior.
The association between five socioeconomic indices (lifetime occupation, education, income, ownership of material possessions, and childhood socioeconomic status) and plasma fibrinogen levels was investigated in middle-aged Finnish men who were part of the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. The Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study is based on a representative age-stratified sample of 2,682 men aged 42, 48, 54, and 60 years. The data were collected between 1984 and 1989. The present analysis is restricted to the 2,011 men for whom information on fibrinogen and all covariates was available. The covariates were alcohol consumption, body mass index, physical fitness, smoking, coffee consumption, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood leukocyte count, and prevalent disease (at least one sign of ischemic heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, or previous stroke). An age-adjusted inverse association was found between levels of plasma fibrinogen and four of the five socioeconomic indices: current income, education, lifetime occupation status, and current material possessions. After adjustment for the covariates, the association persisted for education, current income, and lifetime occupation. Analysis of the joint effect of childhood and adult socioeconomic status indicated that those who were economically disadvantaged at both times had the highest fibrinogen levels, but the fibrinogen levels of those who were not poor as adults had no variation by childhood socioeconomic status.
Research has suggested that social-class differences in adult health may be at least partly determined by conditions earlier in life. In 2636 Finnish men, we assessed impact of childhood and adult socioeconomic conditions on adult mortality risk by examining whether differing socioeconomic life-courses from early childhood to adulthood were associated with different risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Compared with high-income adults, those with low income had increased relative risks of all-cause (2.54, 95% CI 1.83-3.53) and cardiovascular (2.37, 1.51-3.7) mortality, but these increased risks were not related in either adult group to childhood socioeconomic conditions. Men who went from low-income childhood to high-income adulthood had the same mortality risks as those whose socioeconomic circumstances were good in both childhood and adulthood (1.14, 0.56-2.31, all causes; 0.99, 0.39-2.51, cardiovascular). By contrast, men who experienced poor socioeconomic circumstances as both children and adults were about twice as likely to die as those whose position improved (2.39, 1.28-4.44, all causes; 2.02, 0.9-4.54, cardiovascular). Our findings suggest that socioeconomic conditions in childhood are not important determinants of adult health. We caution against this interpretation--a life-course approach to socioeconomic differences in adult health requires understanding of the social and economic context in which individual life-courses are determined.
Comment In: Lancet. 1994 Feb 26;343(8896):4967906754
Comment In: Lancet. 1994 May 14;343(8907):1224-57909885
Much remains to be understood about how low socioeconomic status (SES) increases cardiovascular disease and mortality risk. Data from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (1984-1993) were used to estimate the associations between acute myocardial infarction and income, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular mortality in a population-based sample of 2,272 Finnish men, with adjustment for 23 biologic, behavioral, psychologic, and social risk factors. Compared with the highest income quintile, those in the bottom quintile had age-adjusted relative hazards of 3.14 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.77-5.56), 2.66 (95% CI 1.25-5.66), and 4.34 (95% CI 1.95-9.66) for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and AMI, respectively. After adjustment for risk factors, the relative hazards for the same comparisons were 1.32 (95% CI 0.70-2.49), 0.70 (95% CI 0.29-1.69), and 2.83 (95% CI 1.14-7.00). In the lowest income quintile, adjustment for risk factors reduced the excess relative risk of all-cause mortality by 85%, that of cardiovascular mortality by 118%, and that of acute myocardial infarction by 45%. These data show how the association between SES and cardiovascular mortality and all-cause mortality is mediated by known risk factor pathways, but full "explanations" for these associations will need to encompass why these biologic, behavioral, psychologic, and social risk factors are differentially distributed by SES.
We studied the relation between frequent hangovers and cardiovascular mortality in a representative population sample of middle-aged Finnish men who participated in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Complete data on alcohol consumption, hangover frequency, prior cardiovascular diseases, and risk factors were obtained for 2,160 non-abstinent men. Frequent hangovers were rare in the three lowest alcohol consumption quartiles, but in the highest quartile, a total of 239 men (43.6%) reported having a hangover at least monthly. During an average follow-up time of 6.7 years, these men had a 2.36-fold (95% confidence interval = 1.02-5.48) risk of cardiovascular death compared with men with fewer hangovers, with adjustment for age and total alcohol consumption. The association was somewhat attenuated after adjustments for smoking, income, and prior cardiovascular diseases. Systolic blood pressure, body mass index, resting heart rate, or serum lipids had no appreciable role in the relation, but plasma fibrinogen concentration appeared as one possible pathway to increased risk of cardiovascular death in men who frequently experience hangovers. The findings underline the importance of preventive actions regarding not only the amount but also the way people consume alcohol.
Previous studies have reported an increased risk of death in those who report their health is poor, however, the role of underlying and subclinical disease in this association has not been carefully studied.
The associations between perceived health status and mortality from all causes and cardiovascular disease, incidence of myocardial infarction, carotid atherosclerosis, forced expiratory volume, and maximal exercise capacity were studied in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, a population-based study of 2682 men, aged 42-60, in eastern Finland.
There were strong, statistically significant, age-adjusted associations between level of perceived health and mortality from all causes (RH(bad versus good) = 3.67), cardiovascular causes (RH(bad versus good) = 6.64), and incidence of myocardial infarction (RH(bad versus good) = 3.87). Perceived health levels were strongly associated with risk factors and disease indicators. The associations with mortality and myocardial infarction outcomes were considerably weakened with progressive adjustment for eight risk factors and prevalent disease. Higher levels of perceived health were associated with less carotid atherosclerosis, and greater forced expiratory volume and maximal exercise capacity. Associations between level of perceived health and these indicators were considerably stronger in those with prevalent diseases than in those who were healthy.
The overall pattern of results suggests that perceived health levels mainly reflect underlying disease burden.
Disability retirement may increase as the work force ages, but there is little information on factors associated with retirement because of disability. This is the first prospective population-based study of predictors of disability retirement including information on workplace, socioeconomic, behavioral, and health-related factors.
The subjects were 1038 Finnish men who were enrolled in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, who were 42, 48, 54, or 60 years of age at the beginning of the study, and who participated in a 4-year follow-up medical examination.
Various job characteristics predicted disability retirement. Heavy work, work in uncomfortable positions, long workhours, noise at work, physical job strain, musculoskeletal strain, repetitive or continuous muscle strain, mental job strain, and job dissatisfaction were all significantly associated with the incidence of disability retirement. The ability to communicate with fellow workers and social support from supervisors tended to reduce the risk of disability retirement. The relationships persisted after control for socioeconomic factors, prevalent disease, and health behavior, which were also associated with disability retirement.
The strong associations found between workplace factors and the incidence of disability retirement link the problem of disability retirement to the problem of poor work conditions.
The association between presumed protective factors and social risk factors for hospitalization and mortality was studied during a 14-year follow-up period in a cohort of 8,168 Swedish men aged 18-20 years at baseline. Using Cox regression analysis, the authors found that five protective factors (high social class, home well-being, school well-being, good emotional control, and self-perceived good health) were associated with lower risks of hospitalization and death. Four social risk factors (contact with police or child welfare authorities, running away from home, having divorced parents, and ever using narcotics) were significantly associated with increased risk of hospitalization and mortality. The relative hazard decreased with the number of protective factors and increased with the number of social risk factors, almost linearly. The relative hazard was 0.24 for hospitalization among those with six protective factors and 0.24 for mortality for those with five or six protective factors. The relative hazard for hospitalization was 3.09 among those with five social risk factors compared with those with none, while for mortality the relative hazard among those with four or five social risk factors was 5.74 compared with those with none. While these results indicate strong cumulative effects for both the social risk factors and the protective factors, the associations of individual factors with the two outcome measures were generally reduced in models which simultaneously adjusted for all factors, which presumably indicates collinearity among the factors. There was only limited support for a buffering, or interacting, effect between the risk factors and the protective factors.