‘Poor families more likely to suffer heart attacks even if they have access to healthy food’
Fatal heart conditions plague poor people more than anyone else even if they have access to nutritious foods, a study has revealed.The new report, from Emory University School of Medicine, found that people who live in low-income communities are more likely to experience cardiovascular disease whether or not they live in a food desert.
But it also found that people with high incomes living in low-income areas are not as likely to develop cardiovascular disease as their neighbours.The study’s findings were published in an American Heart Association journal called Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
Researchers have concluded income – not access to nutritious foods – contributes to a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, bringing into question the effectiveness of fresh food markets in impoverished communities.
And experts are urging doctors to remember that a low-income person’s risk of heart trouble is greater even if they maintain a healthy diet.Emory University researchers analyzed data from 1,421 subjects for the study. The average age of the participants was a little over 49 years old, and 38.5 percent of them were male. Additionally, 36.6 percent were black.
The participants were checked for early signs of cardiovascular disease, including inflammation and stiffness of the arteries.The study’s researchers found that people living in food deserts smoked more, had high blood pressure more often and had higher Body Mass Index (BMIs).Additionally, their arteries were stiffer than those of people living outside of food deserts.
The team from Emory University wanted to figure out if having access to healthy food changes a low-income community member’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease, and they determined it did not.
There were no significant differences between people living in low-income areas in food deserts and people living in low-income areas that had access to healthy food.
Study author Professor Arshed Quyyumi said: “This study shows that low personal income and low socioeconomic status matter when it comes to cardiovascular disease risk.”
And he urged clinicians to take this into consideration when evaluating patients, saying: ‘Physicians need to be aware that these social determinants increase disease risk and that perhaps more attention needs to be paid to patients who fall into this category.’
According to the study’s researchers, one of the study’s limitations is that it only measured risk factors for cardiovascular disease and early blood vessel disease.
In order to confirm that a person’s low-income status contributes to their higher risk of heart disease, a study with a larger number of participants and a much longer follow-up needs to be conducted, researchers said.
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