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Cardiovascular fitness in late adolescence is associated with future risk of depression. Relationships with other mental disorders need elucidation. This study investigated whether fitness in late adolescence is associated with future risk of serious non-affective mental disorders. Further, we examined how having an affected brother might impact the relationship.
Prospective, population-based cohort study of 1 109 786 Swedish male conscripts with no history of mental illness, who underwent conscription examinations at age 18 between 1968 and 2005. Cardiovascular fitness was objectively measured at conscription using a bicycle ergometer test. During the follow-up (3–42 years), incident cases of serious non-affective mental disorders (schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like disorders, other psychotic disorders and neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders) were identified through the Swedish National Hospital Discharge Register. Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess the influence of cardiovascular fitness at conscription and risk of serious non-affective mental disorders later in life.
Low fitness was associated with increased risk for schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like disorders [hazard ratio (HR) 1.44, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.29–1.61], other psychotic disorders (HR 1.41, 95% CI 1.27–1.56), and neurotic or stress-related and somatoform disorders (HR 1.45, 95% CI 1.37–1.54). Relationships persisted in models that included illness in brothers.
Lower fitness in late adolescent males is associated with increased risk of serious non-affective mental disorders in adulthood.
Cardiovascular fitness influences many aspects of brain function. However, the relationship between cardiovascular fitness and suicidal behaviour is unknown. Therefore, we aimed to determine whether cardiovascular fitness at age 18 years is associated with future risk of suicide attempt/death.
We performed a population-based Swedish longitudinal cohort study of male conscripts with no previous or ongoing mental illness (n = 1 136 527). The conscription examination, which took place during 1968–2005, included the cycle ergonometric test and tests of cognitive performance. Future risk of suicide attempt/death over a 5- to 42-year follow-up period was calculated with Cox proportional hazards models controlling for several confounders including familial factors.
At least one suicide attempt was recorded for 12 563 men. Death by suicide without a prior attempt was recorded in 4814 additional individuals. In fully adjusted models low cardiovascular fitness was associated with increased risk for future attempt/death by suicide [hazard ratio (HR) 1.79, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64–1.94]. The HR changed only marginally after exclusion of persons who received in-patient care for depression (HR 1.76, 95% CI 1.61–1.94). Poor performance on both the cardiovascular fitness and cognitive tests was associated with a fivefold increased risk of suicide attempt or suicide death (HR 5.46, 95% CI 4.78–6.24).
Lower cardiovascular fitness at age 18 years was, after adjustment for a number of potential confounders, associated with an increased risk of attempt/death by suicide in adulthood. It remains to be clarified whether interventions designed to improve fitness in teens can influence the risk of suicidal behaviour later in life.
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