Most risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) are modifiable, suggesting that the burden of CVD could be substantially reduced through cardiovascular screening and healthier lifestyle. People who have social support are more likely to adhere to cardiovascular prevention recommendations, but it is not clear whether the benefit of social support is equal for men and women.
We investigated whether sex moderates the relationship between social support and adherence to cardiovascular prevention recommendations in a nationally representative sample.
Participants were 17,287 adults (n = 10,264 middle-aged adults 40–64 years old and n = 7,023 older adults ≥ 65 years old) who participated in the National Health Survey of Spain in 2017. Social support was measured with the Functional Social Support Questionnaire of Duke-UNC. Adherence to cardiovascular screening recommendations was assessed based on self-reported testing of cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar by a health professional in the past 12 months. Adherence to recommended health-related behaviors was assessed based on the guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology regarding diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, and physical activity.
Multiple regression models adjusted for socio-demographic and cardiovascular history and risk variables showed that social support was more strongly associated with adherence to cardiovascular prevention recommendations in men than in women. In particular, low social support levels were especially detrimental for both middle-aged men (screening: B = 0.13, 95% CI [0.06–0.20], p < .001; behaviors: B = 0.33 [0.26–0.41], p < .001) and older men (screening: B = 0.10 [0.04–0.17], p = .001; behaviors: B = 0.16 [0.08–0.25], p < .001), whereas older women had comparatively high adherence, which was unrelated to social support (screening: B = 0.02 [−0.03 to 0.08], p = .433; behaviors: B = 0.03 [−0.03 to 0.10], p = .342).
Social support is more strongly associated with cardiovascular prevention in men than in women, such that men who lack social support have the lowest adherence to cardiovascular screening and lifestyle recommendations.