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Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
Original Articles

Relationship Between Cardiovascular Disease Morbidity, Risk Factors, and Stress in a Law Enforcement Cohort

Franke, Warren D. PhD; Ramey, Sandra L. PhD; Shelley, Mack C. II, PhD

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It is unclear to what extent law enforcement officers (LEOs) experience increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD; defined as coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, angina, or stroke) and, if so, whether perceived stress affects this relationship. First, self-reported CVD risk factors among currently employed male LEOs from 9 states (n = 2818) were compared to CVD risk factors among similarly-aged males with similar incomes in the same states (n = 8046). Second, CVD prevalence was compared among LEOs (n = 1791) and similarly-aged males with similar incomes (n = 2575) from four of these states. Finally, among the LEOs only, the possible effect of perceived stress on the relationship between CVD prevalence and CVD risk factors was assessed. LEOs reported higher prevalence of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, tobacco use, and elevated body mass index. CVD prevalence did not differ significantly between the LEO group and the general population (2.3% ± 15% versus 3.1% ± 17%;P = 0.095). In the LEO-only group, the best predictors of CVD were: time in the profession (OR = 1.07; 95% CI = 1.03–1.11), perceived stress (OR = 1.05; 95% CI = 1.00–1.10), and hypertension (OR = 0.33; 95% CI = 0.18–0.62). In the LEO-only group, perceived stress was associated with CVD (P = 0.008), and three CVD risk factors were significantly affected by perceived stress: cholesterol, hypertension, and physical activity. Perceived stress was affected by duration of time in the profession (P = 0.004), independent of an age effect (P = 0.353). Among susceptible officers, perceived stress may contribute to CVD directly and through potentiating several CVD risk factors.

©2002The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine


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