Men who did not participate in a prospective study of cardiovascular disease (The British Regional Heart Study) were younger than the participants, more likely to be unmarried, and more likely to be less skilled workers. In the first three years of follow-up, their total mortality rate was significantly higher than that of the participants; thereafter it declined to levels not significantly different from those of the participants. This excess of early deaths could not be attributed to age. There was a small but non significant excess mortality in non-participants due to neoplasms and cardiovascular disease and a somewhat greater excess from all other causes combined. The social characteristics of the non-participant population appear to contribute to their significantly higher total mortality rate, and allowance needs to be made for this in interpreting the study findings. However the death rate from cardiovascular disease was similar in participants and non-participants, suggesting that any analysis related to this particular cause of death should not be biased by non-participation.
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