Journal Article

Marital status and genetic liability independently predict coronary heart disease incidence

Silventoinen, K., Lahtinen, H., Korhonen, K., Smith, G. D., Ripatti, S., Morris, T. T., Martikainen, P.
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 1–4 (2022)
Open Access


Aims: Married individuals have a lower coronary heart disease (CHD) risk than non-married, but the mechanisms behind this are not fully understood. We analyzed whether genetic liability to CHD may affect these associations.
Methods: Marital status, a polygenic score of CHD (PGS-CHD), and other risk factors for CHD were measured from 35,444 participants (53% female) in Finnish population-based surveys conducted between 1992 and 2012. During the register-based follow-up until 2020, there were 2439 fatal and non-fatal incident CHD cases. The data were analyzed using linear and Cox regression models.
Results: Divorced and cohabiting men and women had a higher genetic risk of CHD than married individuals, but the difference was very small (0.023–0.058 standard deviation of PGS-CHD, p-values 0.011–0.429). Both marital status and PGS-CHD were associated with CHD incidence, but the associations were largely independent. Adjusting for behavioral and metabolic risk factors for CHD explained part of these associations (11–20%). No interaction was found between marital status and PGS-CHD for CHD incidence.
Conclusions: We showed minor differences between the marital status categories in PGS-CHD and demonstrated that marital status and genetic liability predicted CHD incidence largely independently. This emphasizes the need to measure multiple risk factors when predicting CHD risk.

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