Heart disease risk depending on financial and social status

Heart disease risk depending on financial and social status

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Does the financial situation affect the risk of heart disease?

As is well known, there are various health factors that pose a possible risk of heart disease. The latest study results now indicate that a person's financial and social status also plays an important role and can provide valuable information about the potential risk of heart disease.

Two recent studies found that some markers of the financial and social status of people known as social health factors provide important information about the potential risk of heart disease. The results of these studies were presented at this year's American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session / World Congress of Cardiology.

Important markers were often not taken into account

Because various markers of a person's financial and social status can indicate the potential risk of developing heart disease, it is important to consider this valuable information. So far, however, such markers have been overlooked far too often, the researchers report in a press release.

Important health inequalities should be eliminated

Two studies examined the role social factors such as food security, financial stability and access to health care can play in the risk of heart disease. Because taking these factors into account as part of medical records and decision making could help to address existing health injustices.

Disregarded risk factors for heart disease

Important factors such as nutrition, housing and financial security are often not taken into account when treating certain cardiovascular risk factors. But precisely these risk factors play an important role in the development of cardiovascular diseases. Such problems of people have to be viewed from a broader perspective in order to reduce the number of cardiovascular diseases more effectively, the researchers emphasize.

Data from more than 400,000 people have been analyzed

The study evaluated data from more than 400,000 adult people in the United States who had participated in a large telephone survey that has been conducted annually for more than 35 years. Almost every tenth person interviewed reported suffering from at least one form of heart disease.

What role did nutrition, housing and finance play?

The researchers investigated how respondents' perceptions of their level of food, housing and financial security are related to the likelihood of suffering from various types of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease or congestive heart disease.

How much increased the risk of heart disease?

After considering known risk factors for heart disease, it was found that several social factors can independently be linked to an increased risk of heart disease. An unsafe diet and living situation increased the likelihood of heart disease by more than 50 percent. Difficulties accessing health care increased the risk by 47 percent. People with a high degree of financial insecurity suffered from heart disease more than twice as much as people who considered themselves financially secure.

Causes of the results?

There are several possible causes for the results found. For example, financial insecurity regarding nutrition could make it difficult to maintain a healthy heart. General uncertainty about finances or housing security can lead to stress, which in turn can trigger physiological effects that contribute to heart disease. A suboptimal access to health care can cause people to delay the examination or care until an existing cardiovascular problem is more advanced and more difficult to control.

These factors should be considered in the future

Health care systems should consider issues relevant to the social determinants of health in their future electronic health records. Food, housing and finance concerns should be taken into account. A collaboration between doctors and nonprofits should address these issues in addition to other known cardiovascular risk factors.

Misjudgement could favor health inequalities

A separate study focused on the modeling tools that are commonly used to assess a patient's cardiovascular risk. The researchers found that current risk prediction models that do not include details about income, educational level, housing status or food insecurity are likely to underestimate the cardiovascular risk of low-income groups. This misjudgment could contribute to health injustices. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Social, financial factors critical to assessing cardiovascular risk, in Eurekalert (published 03/18/2020), Eurekalert

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