Income, education inequality affect the risk of sudden death from heart disease

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April 15, 2023

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Main sockets:

  • People with lower incomes and education were at greater risk of sudden cardiac death than people with higher incomes and education.
  • The differences were not explained by modifiable risk factors.

Researchers reported that income and education had an inverse relationship with risk of sudden cardiac death that was not explained by modifiable risk factors.

Sudden death from cardiac causes is among the leading causes of death in the general population and it is difficult to predict who is at high risk. Peder Emil WermingAnd MDAnd From the Department of Cardiology at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues wrote in European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. “Finding people or groups at high risk is important for improving prevention.”

Middle Aged White Man Having A Heart Attack

People with lower incomes and education have an increased risk of sudden cardiac death versus people with higher incomes and education.
Image: Adobe Stock

To determine the effect of income and education level on the incidence of sudden cardiac death, as well as the influence of modifiable median risk factors, the Warming team and colleagues analyzed information from 10,006 participants (mean age at baseline, 61 years; 56% women) in the City Heart Study. Copenhagen in Denmark.

The researchers followed up with the participants from 1993 to 2016.

They collected sociodemographic information, including education, occupation, and income, from self-reported questionnaires completed by participants at baseline. Participants were stratified by education (primary, vocational training, short education and long education) and by income level (low, middle or high).

Warming and colleagues found that people with primary education had a higher incidence of sudden cardiac death than individuals with a long education (incidence ratio [IRR] = 2.48; 95% CI, 1.86-3.31).

In addition, lower-income individuals had a higher rate of sudden cardiac death than higher-income individuals (internal rate of return = 2.34; 95% CI, 1.85–2.96).

The researchers also said that modifiable risk factors, including smoking, physical activity and body mass index, account for only a small part of the risk differences in the association between education and sudden cardiac death.

“The focus should be on modifiable preventive measures to address socioeconomic disparities in sudden cardiac death, with an emphasis on disadvantaged populations, ranging from individual-level measures to policy strategies,” Warming and colleagues write.