Association Between Divorce and Risks for Acute Myocardial Infarction

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Abstract

Background—

Divorce is a major life stressor that can have economic, emotional, and physical health consequences. However, the cumulative association between divorce and risks for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is unknown. This study investigated the association between lifetime exposure to divorce and the incidence of AMI in US adults.

Methods and Results—

We used nationally representative data from a prospective cohort of ever-married adults aged 45 to 80 years (n=15 827) who were followed biennially from 1992 to 2010. Approximately 14% of men and 19% of women were divorced at baseline and more than one third of the cohort had ≥1 divorce in their lifetime. In 200 524 person-years of follow-up, 8% (n=1211) of the cohort had an AMI and age-specific rates of AMI were consistently higher in those who were divorced compared with those who were continuously married (P<0.05). Results from competing-risk hazard models showed that AMI risks were significantly higher in women who had 1 divorce (hazard ratio, 1.24; 95% confidence interval, 1.01–1.55), ≥2 divorces (hazard ratio, 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 1.30–2.41), and among the remarried (hazard ratio, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.07–1.70) compared with continuously married women after adjusting for multiple risk factors. Multivariable-adjusted risks were elevated only in men with a history of ≥2 divorces (hazard ratio, 1.30; 95% confidence interval, 1.02–1.66) compared with continuously married men. Men who remarried had no significant risk for AMI. Interaction terms for sex were not statistically significant.

Conclusions—

Divorce is a significant risk factor for AMI. The risks associated with multiple divorces are especially high in women and are not reduced with remarriage.

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