heart disease

It’s no secret that Americans are not all equal when it comes to income. A new study in JAMA Cardiology shows that these income disparities are related to the risk of heart disease.

How Does Income Relate to Heart Disease Risk?

Scientists analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2014. More than 17,000 adults participated in the study. The investigators reviewed findings on heart disease risk and risk factors, particularly blood pressure and smoking.

Heart Disease Rates Have Dropped, But Not for Poor People:

Those with incomes at or below the federal poverty level had no improvement in their cardiovascular risk over that time frame. But higher income adults saw significant drops in their overall cardiovascular risk, systolic blood pressure and smoking status.

Overall, heart disease in the US has declined over the past few decades. Public health experts will need to do a lot more, however, to extend the overall improvement to people living in poverty.

Odutayo et al, JAMA Cardiology, June 7, 2017

Income Disparities and Health:

This is not the first study to find that income disparities are bad for health. The New York Times ran a story (and a striking graphic) back in 2015. People with little money have limited access to health care, of course, but they also may live in food deserts or have no safe place to exercise. All of those factors could contribute to cardiovascular risk.

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  1. Penelope
    St; Petersburg, FL

    One of the unspoken benefits of the ACA–Obamcare, is that when value medicine is used in poor communities, i.e. helping people with diets, regular checkups, life-style counseling, etc. the health of these communities improves and the costs go down, because they aren’t using the emergency room and other expensive services as much.

  2. david

    Instead of trying to figure out whether it is smoking, alcohol, drug use, high fat diet, obesity, inactivity behind the shorter life span of black, hispanic, native Americans we should be studying the lifestyle of the healthiest group in America. Seventh Day Adventists lifespan is ten years longer than the average American, and the members who follow the diet most have the longest lifespans.

    In all countries in Africa, Caribbean, U.K, Brazil, blacks have shorter lifespan, more infant mortality. There is no black population known for longevity. Native Americans in the U.S. and Canada have very poor longevity. The Pima Indians in Mexico who are not obese are much healthier than Arizona Pima with the same genetics.

  3. Cindy M. Black
    Seattle, WA

    D’OH! Of course there’s a link between poverty and heart disease, also other diseases. Remember the mind-body continuum? When you’re poor you have many more things to worry about, many more negatives to deal with, less healthy food to eat, poorer health care, and probably a mouthful of bad teeth. Every one of those things is connected to heart disease.

  4. jane

    Some more fortunate may be tempted to say ‘Oh well!’ ‘What can be done?’ We should remember that we’re ALL paying for this ‘excess of ill health’ – at 3 x the average price of the developed world, and more like 10 x the price for uninsured people.

  5. Anne

    I think there’s a link between poverty and all kinds of health problems, including dental care.

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