Socioeconomic status predicts cardiovascular risk in African Americans

For African-American adults, socioeconomic status plays a major role in predicting cardiovascular risk, according to a population-based study. Women in the lowest socioeconomic group were twice as likely as those in the highest group to have a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke.

In addition, people who were 50 years old or younger in the lowest socioeconomic group were more than three times more likely to have a cardiovascular event than those in the highest group.

Samson Y. Gebreab, PhD, MSc, of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues published their findings online in the Journal of the American Heart Association on May 27.

They noted that African Americans have a disproportionate number of cardiovascular deaths and events compared with whites.

In this analysis, they examined the Jackson Heart Study, which recruited 5,301 African Americans from Mississippi who were between 21 and 94 years old. Of the participants, 63.4 percent were women.

Participants were asked about their mother’s education, whether their parents owned a home and whether they had childhood amenities such as indoor plumbing, electricity, refrigerator, telephone, television and air conditioning. They also completed a questionnaire that measured their socioeconomic status as adults and answered questions about their education, family income and other factors.

After a median follow-up of 7.2 years, there were 362 new or recurrent coronary heart disease or stroke events: 213 in women and 149 in men. The researchers defined a coronary heart disease event as definite or probable MI, definite fatal coronary heart disease or cardiac procedure. They defined a stroke event as definite or probable stroke as assessed by neuroimaging studies and autopsy.

Gebreab et al found that participants with higher adult and childhood socioeconomic status were younger and more likely to be men, while adults with a higher socioeconomic status were also more likely to have a better diet and not smoke.

They wrote that adult socioeconomic status was associated with cardiovascular risk in women more than in men. For women, wealth was the most significant predictor of cardiovascular risk, while education and public assistance were less of a predictor.

For both men and women, childhood socioeconomic status was not associated with cardiovascular risk.