Abstract Objective Although alexithymia has been suggested to be associated with cardiovascular diseases, studies are scarce and a causal relationship is questionable. This study explored the prospective association between alexithymia and cardiovascular events in middle-aged participants without cardiovascular history at baseline. Methods The 26-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-26) was completed by 5,586 participants of the French Supplémentation en Vitamines et Minéraux AntioXydants (SU.VI.MAX) cohort (41.4% of men, mean age ± SD: 52.2 ± 6.3 years) in 1996-1997. Covariates measured at baseline included age, occupational status, depressive symptoms, smoking status, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia. The follow-up ran from January 1, 1998 to the date of the first cardiovascular event, the date of death or September 1, 2007, whichever occurred first. Cardiovascular events were validated by an independent expert committee. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed with Cox regressions. Results During an average of 8.9 years of follow-up, 171 first cardiovascular events were validated. Adjusting for age, sex and occupational status, there was no association between baseline alexithymia and cardiovascular events at follow-up (HR [95% CI] for 15 points of TAS-26: 1.00 [0.81-1.23], p > 0.99). Adjusting for all covariates, using binary TAS-26 cut-offs or TAS-26 subscores yielded similar non-significant results. Conclusions In this large prospective study, alexithymia and cardiovascular events were not associated among a nonclinical population. This casts some doubt on whether alexithymia could be a meaningful target in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Psychosomatic Medicine – Wolters Kluwer Health
Published: Nov 1, 2018
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