Ideal cardiovascular health in adolescents and young adults is associated with alexithymia over two decades later: Findings from The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study: Department: Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

Max Karukivi, Antti Jula, Laura Pulkki-Råback, Nina Hutri-Kähönen, Tomi T. Laitinen, Jorma Viikari, Markus Juonala, Olli Raitakari

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We evaluated the association of cardiovascular health in adolescence and young adulthood with alexithymia 25 years later. The study sample (n=1122) participated in evaluations conducted in 1986 (baseline) and in 2011−2012 (T2). Baseline health factors and behaviors were assessed utilizing seven ideal cardiovascular health metrics (ICH index) including blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, smoking, physical activity, body-mass-index, and diet. The stability of the ICH index was evaluated with corresponding assessments in 2007 (T1). At T2, alexithymia was measured with the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). The main analyses were conducted using ANCOVA and adjusted for depression, age, and present social and lifestyle factors. TAS-20 subscales, Difficulty Identifying Feelings (DIF), Difficulty Describing Feelings (DDF), and Externally Oriented Thinking, were analyzed separately. The ICH index was significantly associated with the TAS-20 total score, as well as both with DIF and DDF. A less ideal cardiovascular health was associated with higher alexithymia scores. However, regarding the separate factors, only the association between non-ideal dietary habits and DIF was significant in the multivariate analyses. The baseline ICH index score was stable from baseline to T1. We conclude that non-ideal cardiovascular lifestyle habits in adolescence and young adulthood are significantly associated with later alexithymia.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112976
JournalPsychiatry Research
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Diet
  • Emotions
  • Ideal cardiovascular health index
  • Lifestyle habits
  • 515 Psychology
  • 3124 Neurology and psychiatry

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