Increased Risks of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke Among Spousal Caregivers of Cancer Patients
Background—Spousal caregivers of cancer patients suffer psychological and physical burdens, which may affect their risk of subsequently developing coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.
Methods and Results—Cancer patients were identified in the Swedish Cancer Registry, and information on their spouses was retrieved from the Swedish Multi-Generation Register. Follow-up of caregivers was carried out from the date of the first diagnosis of cancer in their spouses through 2008. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated for spousal caregivers of cancer patients compared to those without an affected spouse. After the cancer diagnosis in wives, the risks of CHD, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in husbands were 1.13 (95% CI 1.10-1.16), 1.24 (95%CI 1.21-1.27) and 1.25 (95%CI 1.18-1.32), respectively. The corresponding risks in wives with an affected husband were 1.13 (95% CI 1.10-1.16), 1.29 (95%CI 1.26-1.32) and 1.27 (95%CI 1.19-1.34). The increases were consistent over time, and were more pronounced if the spouse was affected by cancer with high mortality rates, such as pancreatic and lung cancers.
Conclusions—Spousal caregivers of cancer patients have increased risks of CHD and stroke that persists over time. Clinical attention should be paid to spousal caregivers, especially those caring for cancer patients with high mortality rates.
- Received July 19, 2011.
- Accepted February 10, 2012.
- Copyright © 2012, American Heart Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited