Neighborhood conditions may influence heart failure risk

A new study has revealed that the socioeconomic status of a neighborhood predicts heart failure risk in its inhabitants much more than individual socioeconomic status.

Scientists identify a new heart disease risk factor in low-income communities

New research published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcome, a journal of the American Heart Association, has revealed that the socioeconomic status of one’s neighborhood could significantly influence the risk of heart failure.

The study explained further that one’s neighborhood conditions affect this risk much more than socioeconomic status, which has been considered a well-established risk factor for heart failure.

To reach these findings, co-senior study author Dr. Elvis Akwo, a postdoctoral research fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee USA, and his team analyzed data of 27,078 adults, who were low-income earners aged between 40 and 79. These subjects were part of the Southern Community Cohort Study which assessed the health of adults in 12 US southeastern states between 2002 and 2009.

The research team grouped these participants into three categories, ranging from those who resided in the poorest or most deprived areas to those who resided in the least deprived areas. The participants were followed up for about 5 years with their health status routinely evaluated.

During this 5-year period of observation, 4,300 of the participants developed heart failure. In their analysis, the researchers found that the greatest incidence of heart failure occurred among the adults who lived in the most deprived areas while those who lived in the least deprived areas had the lowest incidence of heart failure. The results showed an incidence of heart failure of 37.9 per 1,000 person-years for persons who lived in the most deprived areas, compared with 28.4 per 1,000 person-years for those who resided in the least-deprived places.

The study also noted that each move up the tier from least deprived to the most deprived was associated with a 12 percent rise in risk of heart failure. The results held valid after considering other risks factors for heart failure for the participants. The team deduced, after factoring each participant’s income and level of education, that one’s neighborhood accounted for 4.8 percent of a person’s risk of heart failure.

The researchers reaffirmed the validity of the results and noted that although the study focused on low-income earners and cannot be hastily generalized for every population, they hope it paves a way for more research and initiation of community-based programs and interventions that will help reduce people’s risk of heart failure.

Akwo A E, et al, Neighborhood Deprivation Predicts Heart Failure Risk in a Low-Income Population of Blacks and Whites in the Southeastern United States, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, January 2018, Volume 11, Issue 1.
Retrieved from on January 18th, 2018.

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