Journal Article

Changing associations of coronary heart disease incidence with current partnership status and marital history over three decades

Silventoinen, K., Korhonen, K., Martikainen, P.
SSM-Population Health, 18:101080, 1–8 (2022)
Open Access


Married men and women have better health than non-married, but little is known about how cohabitation and marital history are associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence and how these associations have changed over time. We analyzed these associations by fitting Cox regression models to register data covering the whole Finnish population aged 35 years or older (N = 4,415,590), who experienced 530,560 first time non-fatal or fatal CHD events during the years 1990–2018. Further, we used stratified Cox regression models to analyze CHD incidence within same-sex sibling pairs (N = 377,730 pairs). Married men and women without previous divorce had the lowest CHD incidence whereas cohabitation and a history of divorce were associated with higher CHD incidence. The associations were stronger in younger (35–64 years old) than older participants (65 years or older). These associations remained after adjusting for several indicators of social position, and the lower CHD incidence among those married without previous divorce was also observed within sibling pairs with a shared family background. The differences in CHD incidence between the categories generally widened over time; the largest and most systematic widening was observed among women in the younger age category. The long standing negative effect of divorce suggests that selection may partly explain the association between partnership status and CHD incidence. Partnership status is an increasingly important factor contributing to social inequalities in health.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.