Long-Term Moderate, High Stress Ups Male Mortality Rate

Increased mortality rates are independent of demographics and health behavior habits

THURSDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term moderate or high levels of stress in men are associated with higher mortality rates, independent of demographics and health behavior habits, according to a study published in the Journal of Aging Research.

Carolyn M. Aldwin, Ph.D., from Oregon State University in Corvallis, and colleagues examined long-term patterns of stressful life events (SLEs) and their impact on mortality. A total of 1,443 male participants of Veteran Affairs Normative Aging Study (aged 41 to 87 years) with at least two reports of SLEs over 18 years were evaluated on the basis of two theoretical models: allostatic load (linear relationship) and hormesis (inverted U relationship). Participants were categorized according to the number of SLEs into low-, moderate- and high-stress groups.

The investigators identified four patterns of SLE trajectories. Three of these trajectories showed linear decreases over time with low, medium, and high intercepts, respectively, and one trajectory showed an inverted U, which peaked at 70 years of age. After exclusion of two health-related SLEs, only the three linear patterns were observed in a repeat analysis. After controlling for demographics and health behavior habits, the moderate- and high-stress groups had increased mortality compared to the low-stress group. Neither theoretical model could easily explain the complex relationship between stress trajectories and mortality.

"This study shows that longitudinal assessments of stressful life events significantly predict mortality independent of standard risk factors and that high stressful life event levels did not convey appreciably greater risk than moderate ones," the authors write.

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