Social class difference exists in coronary heart disease

November 15, 2000

A study in this week's BMJ finds an unequivocal social class difference in coronary heart disease amongst men and women in their 30s. These findings have important implications for interventions aimed at reducing inequalities in heart disease.

Colhoun and colleagues examined the rate of coronary artery calcification -- an accurate measure of coronary artery disease -- in 149 men and women aged 30-40 years in relation to socioeconomic status. They found that being in the manual social class was associated with a significantly higher rate of calcification. Accounting for known risk factors -- such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking and physical activity levels -- had very little effect on these results.

Given these findings, interventions aimed at reducing inequalities in heart disease must include young adults and possibly children, suggest the authors, and future studies should include participants in their 20s and 30s, they add. The lack of effect when accounting for risk factors emphasizes that the biological mechanisms, through which social inequalities affect risks for coronary heart disease, have yet to be discovered, they conclude.
-end-
(Cross sectional study of differences in coronary artery calcification by socioeconomic status) BMJ Volume 321, pp 1262-1263

Contact: Helen Colhoun, Senior Lecturer, University College London Medical School, London, UK Tel: 44- 20-7679-1680 or 20-7387-7050 Fax: 44-20-7813-0242 Email: helen@public-health.ucl.ac.uk.

This release is reproduced verbatim and with permission from the British Medical Association as a service to reporters interested in health and behavioral change. For further information about The British Medical Journal or to obtain a copy of the article, please contact Public Affairs Division, British Medical Association, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JP, Tel: 020-7383-6254 or email: pressoffice@bma.org.uk. After 6 p.m. and on weekends telephone: 44-208-241-6386/ 44-208-997-3653/44-208-674-6294/44-1525-379792/44-208-651-5130. Please contact Public Affairs Division for the text of the paper, and the authors direct for further comment.

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Center for Advancing Health

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