Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Importance: Stress may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Most studies on stress and CVD have been conducted in high-income Western countries, but whether stress is associated with CVD in other settings has been less well studied.
Objective: To investigate the association of a composite measure of psychosocial stress and the development of CVD events and mortality in a large prospective study involving populations from 21 high-, middle-, and low-income countries across 5 continents.
Design, setting, and participants: This population-based cohort study used data from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study, collected between January 2003 and March 2021. Participants included individuals aged 35 to 70 years living in 21 low-, middle-, and high-income countries. Data were analyzed from April 8 to June 15, 2021.
Exposures: All participants were assessed on a composite measure of psychosocial stress assessed at study entry using brief questionnaires concerning stress at work and home, major life events, and financial stress.
Main outcomes and measures: The outcomes of interest were stroke, major coronary heart disease (CHD), CVD, and all-cause mortality.
Results: A total of 118 706 participants (mean [SD] age 50.4 [9.6] years; 69 842 [58.8%] women and 48 864 [41.2%] men) without prior CVD and with complete baseline and follow-up data were included. Of these, 8699 participants (7.3%) reported high stress, 21 797 participants (18.4%) reported moderate stress, 34 958 participants (29.4%) reported low stress, and 53 252 participants (44.8%) reported no stress. High stress, compared with no stress, was more likely with younger age (mean [SD] age, 48.9 [8.9] years vs 51.1 [9.8] years), abdominal obesity (2981 participants [34.3%] vs 10 599 participants [19.9%]), current smoking (2319 participants [26.7%] vs 10 477 participants [19.7%]) and former smoking (1571 participants [18.1%] vs 3978 participants [7.5%]), alcohol use (4222 participants [48.5%] vs 13 222 participants [24.8%]), and family history of CVD (5435 participants [62.5%] vs 20 255 participants [38.0%]). During a median (IQR) follow-up of 10.2 (8.6-11.9) years, a total of 7248 deaths occurred. During the course of follow-up, there were 5934 CVD events, 4107 CHD events, and 2880 stroke events. Compared with no stress and after adjustment for age, sex, education, marital status, location, abdominal obesity, hypertension, smoking, diabetes, and family history of CVD, as the level of stress increased, there were increases in risk of death (low stress: hazard ratio [HR], 1.09 [95% CI, 1.03-1.16]; high stress: 1.17 [95% CI, 1.06-1.29]) and CHD (low stress: HR, 1.09 [95% CI, 1.01-1.18]; high stress: HR, 1.24 [95% CI, 1.08-1.42]). High stress, but not low or moderate stress, was associated with CVD (HR, 1.22 [95% CI, 1.08-1.37]) and stroke (HR, 1.30 [95% CI, 1.09-1.56]) after adjustment.
Conclusions and relevance: This cohort study found that higher psychosocial stress, measured as a composite score of self-perceived stress, life events, and financial stress, was significantly associated with mortality as well as with CVD, CHD, and stroke events.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

JAMA Network Open

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.