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Sociopolitical stress and acute cardiovascular disease hospitalizations around the 2016 presidential election

Previous research suggests that stressors may trigger the onset of acute cardiovascular disease (CVD) events within hours to days, but there has been limited research around sociopolitical events such as presidential elections. Among adults ≥18 y of age in Kaiser Permanente Southern California, hospitalization rates for acute CVD were compared in the time period immediately prior to and following the 2016 presidential election date. Hospitalization for CVD was defined as an inpatient or emergency department discharge diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) or stroke using International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision codes. Rate ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated comparing CVD rates in the 2 d following the 2016 election to rates in the same 2 d of the prior week. In a secondary analysis, AMI and stroke were analyzed separately. The rate of CVD events in the 2 d after the 2016 presidential election (573.14 per 100,000 person-years [PY]) compared to the rate in the window prior to the 2016 election (353.75 per 100,000 PY) was 1.62 times higher (95% CI 1.17, 2.25). Results were similar across sex, age, and race/ethnicity groups. The RRs were similar for AMI (RR 1.67, 95% CI 1.00, 2.76) and stroke (RR 1.59, 95% CI 1.03, 2.44) separately. Transiently heightened cardiovascular risk around the 2016 election may be attributable to sociopolitical stress. Further research is needed to understand the intersection between major sociopolitical events, perceived stress, and acute CVD events.

Authors: Mefford, Matthew T; Sloan, Richard P; Williams, David R; et al.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 10 27;117(43):27054-27058. Epub 2020-10-12.

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