Posted on Sep 15, 2023, 5 p.m.
Improvements in socioeconomic status on ideal cardiovascular health may not benefit all people from all racial or ethnic groups equally, according to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
"The goal of economic interventions and societal policies, such as improving employment, health care access, and education, is that they will lead to improvements in health for everyone," explained senior study author Joshua J. Joseph, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, an associate professor of internal medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. "However, our study found that improvements in these socioeconomic interventions may not benefit people in all racial or ethnic groups equally."
Additional factors including psychosocial stress are experienced by people differently and they are also experienced differently by people from different racial and ethnic groups due to medical mistrust and unequal access to healthcare which may also be driving cardiovascular health inequities.
This study assessed measures of socioeconomic metrics with Life’s Essential 8 Metris of ideal heart health across racial and ethnic groups within America using data for close to 13,500 adults from the nationally representative NHANES study. The researchers report that across all participants having a higher socioeconomic status was linked to better heart health.
Having a college education was associated with a 15-point increase in ideal heart health among White males, a 10-point increase among Black and Hispanic adults, and an 8-point increase among Asian adults. Additionally, having Medicaid rather than private health insurance was associated with a 13-point decline in ideal health scores among White adults compared to a 5-6 point decline for those in other racial and ethnic groups.
This study was not without limitations including that it can not prove cause and effect between socioeconomic status and the American Heart Association's Life's Essential 8 scores. Additionally, the study did not include information regarding the potential effects of wealth over time, data was based on self-reported information, and the study didn’t differentiate between country of birth or immigration status among other limitations.
“The new diverse representative study suggests heart disease prevention efforts should address other non-biological factors that drive cardiovascular health and not rely solely on reducing socioeconomic disparities by race or ethnic group.”
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