Socioeconomic deprivation and premature cardiovascular mortality are linked, study finds

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People living in socially deprived areas of the United States are more likely to die prematurely from cardiovascular (CV) complications, according to new research.

The study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, was conducted by researchers at University Hospitals (UH) Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute in Cleveland. They found that social deprivation can explain a significant proportion of the geographic variation in premature cardiovascular mortality in the U.S.

Socioeconomic deprivation is defined by several social and economic factors including education, income, employment, and neighborhood environment.

The study concluded that counties with high social deprivation had the highest rates of premature CV deaths. Additionally, from 1999 to 2018 premature cardiovascular mortality decreased to a lesser extent in socially deprived counties compared with affluent counties. Researchers point to indicators of social deprivation that directly explain a significant proportion of the geographic differences in premature CV mortality in the United States. 

“Health and structural inequities in poor communities have been ignored for too long,” said Sanjay Rajagopalan, MD, co-author of the study and chief of Cardiovascular Medicine of UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute in a statement. “We now know that where you live, inequities, and other components embedded in the environment are powerful determinants of mortality, often from chronic non-communicable disease. Most importantly, shedding light on this pervasive issue compels us to act upon the information.”

To help mitigate this risk, a $18.2 million federal grant from the National Institutes of Health’s P50 program will facilitate medical and cardiovascular care provided directly to people living in Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority in Cleveland, one of the nation’s largest and oldest subsidized housing programs.