We investigated the risk of sudden cardiac arrest in association with the recent loss of, or separation from, a family member or friend.
Our case-crossover study included 490 apparently healthy married residents of King County, Washington, who suffered sudden cardiac arrest between 1988 and 2005. We compared exposure to spouse-reported family/friend events occurring ≤1 month before sudden cardiac arrest with events occurring in the previous 5 months. We evaluated potential effect modification by habitual vigorous physical activity.
Recent family/friend events were associated with a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest (odds ratio [OR] = 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1–2.4). ORs for cases with and without habitual vigorous physical activity were 1.1 (0.6–2.2) and 2.0 (1.2–3.1), respectively (interaction P = 0.02).
These results suggest family/friend events may trigger sudden cardiac arrest and raise the hypothesis that habitual vigorous physical activity may lower susceptibility to these potential triggers.
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From the aDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; bDepartment of Statistics, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand; cDepartment of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; dDepartment of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; eBassett Research Institute, Cooperstown, NY; and fCollege of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.
Submitted 21 July 2011; accepted 20 January 2012; posted online 13 March 2012.
Supported by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Training grant (I-T32-HL07902), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (HL091244, HL088456, HLA41993), and the University of Washington Clinical Nutrition Research Unit (DK-35816). Initial support was provided by the Medic One Foundation, Seattle, WA. The authors reported no other financial interests related to this research.
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Correspondence: April F. Wicks, UW Cardiovascular Health Research Unit, 1730 Minor Avenue, Suite 1360, Seattle, WA 98101. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.