To explore whether chronic pain is associated with cardiovascular risk factors and identify whether increased distribution or intensity of pain is associated with cardiovascular risk, participants in Generation Scotland: The Scottish Family Health study completed pain questionnaires recording the following: presence of chronic pain, distribution of pain, and intensity of chronic pain. Blood pressure, lipids, blood glucose, smoking history, waist-hip ratio, and body mass index were recorded; Framingham 10-year coronary heart disease (CHD) risk scores were calculated and a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome derived. Associations between chronic pain and cardiovascular risk were explored. Of 13,328 participants, 1100 (8.3%) had high CHD risk. Chronic pain was reported by 5209 (39%), 1294 (9.7%) reported widespread chronic pain, and 707 (5.3%) reported high-intensity chronic pain. In age- and gender-adjusted analyses, chronic pain was associated with elevated CHD risk scores (odds ratio 1.11, 95% confidence interval 1.01-1.23) and the metabolic syndrome (odds ratio 1.42, 95% confidence interval 1.24-1.62). Multivariate analyses identified dyslipidaemia, age, gender, smoking, obesity, and high waist-hip ratio as independently associated with chronic pain. Within the chronic pain subgroup, widespread pain did not confer any additional cardiovascular disease risk. However, cardiovascular disease risk factors contributing to metabolic syndrome were more prevalent in those reporting high-intensity chronic pain. This large population-based study has demonstrated that chronic pain, and in particular high-intensity chronic pain, is associated with an increased prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and metabolic syndrome. The 10-year CHD risk score and metabolic syndrome correlate well with increased pain intensity, but not with widespread pain.
Goodson, N. J., Smith, B. H., Hocking, L. J., McGilchrist, M. M., Dominiczak, A. F., Morris, A., Porteous, D. J., & Goebel, A. (2013). Cardiovascular risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome are more prevalent in people reporting chronic pain: results from a cross-sectional general population study. Pain, 154(9), 1595-1602. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.2013.04.043