Social class difference exists in coronary heart disease

November 16, 2000

Cross sectional study of differences in coronary artery calcification by socioeconomic status

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 emphasises that the biological mechanisms, through which social inequalities affect risks for coronary heart disease, have yet to be discovered, they conclude.
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Contact:

Helen Colhoun, Senior Lecturer, University College London Medical School, London, UK
Email: helen@public-health.ucl.ac.uk

BMJ

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