Those who are deemed mentally vulnerable appear to be at significantly increased risk for fatal and nonfatal CVD, according to study results presented at EuroPrevent 2013.
Researchers analyzed data from Danish population-based cohort studies comprising about 11,000 participants with no history of CVD to assess the association between mental vulnerability and CVD risk. Mental vulnerability was defined as a tendency to experience psychosomatic symptoms or inadequate interpersonal reactions. Researchers assessed mental vulnerability using a 12-item scale constructed by the Military Psychology Services in Denmark. Results categorized participants into three groups: nonvulnerable, latent or mentally vulnerable.
“The scale consists of questions on both mental and physical symptoms, and generally measures a level of stress or a personality that is more receptive to stress. The scale has previously been found associated with early mortality and ischemic heart disease,” Anders Borglykke, MSc, PhD, of the Research Center for Prevention and Health at Glostrup University Hospital, Denmark, said in a press release.
Participants were followed for an average of 15 years, during which time 3,045 fatal and nonfatal CV events were recorded. The researchers reported that mental vulnerability was significantly associated with fatal and nonfatal CV events, independent of classical risk factors. Risk for CV events in mentally vulnerable participants was 36% higher than in nonvulnerable participants.
Statistical analysis showed that adding mental vulnerability to a risk-stratification model that included classical risk factors resulted in only very small changes in discriminative ability, according to the release.
“However, these results do not necessarily mean that we should ignore mental vulnerability in our assessment of individual risk. It is still possible that it might improve risk prediction or emerge as a new marker to explain or reclassify some cardiovascular cases that cannot be attributed to classical risk factors,” Borglykke said.
The researchers concluded: “Further work will focus on subgroups of the population [in which] mental vulnerability might improve cardiovascular risk stratification.”
For more information:
Borglykke A. Abstract P52. Presented at: EuroPrevent; April 18-20, 2013; Rome.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.