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Comprehensively evaluating the relationships between marital status and other family factors with cardiovascular disease and long-term overall mortality in the elderly: a study of 48 510 Chinese individuals.

BACKGROUND: Marital status is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence and overall mortality, yet limited research on this topic in elderly individuals is available. Our aim was to comprehensively assess the impact of marital status and other family factors on CVD incidence and long-term mortality among elderly people.

METHODS: Data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (2002/2005/2008-2018) for participants aged ≥60 years were analysed. A cross-sectional study initially examined the correlation between spouses, offspring, living arrangements, and CVD using logistic regression. Subsequently, a retrospective cohort study investigated the long-term associations of these factors with overall mortality via Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses.

RESULTS: The study involved 48 510 subjects (average age: 87 years). The cross-sectional analysis revealed a correlation between living with a spouse and an increased incidence of heart disease (adjusted OR 1.27, 95% CI 1.04-1.55) and cerebrovascular disease/stroke (adjusted OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.11-1.42). According to the retrospective cohort analysis, living with a spouse significantly reduced overall mortality (adjusted HR 0.84, 95% CI 0.80-0.87), irrespective of marital relationship quality. Conversely, living with offspring (adjusted HR 1.12, 95% CI 1.08-1.16), having more children (adjusted Pnonlinearity = 0.427) or cohabitants (adjusted Pnonlinearity < 0.0001) were associated with increased overall mortality.

CONCLUSION: In the elderly population, being married and living with a spouse were not significantly associated with a decrease in CVD incidence but were associated with a reduction in long-term overall mortality. Living with offspring, having more children, or having a larger family size did not replicate the protective effect but indicated greater overall mortality.

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