Socioeconomics and Heart Disease

A recent study of black women in Mississippi revealed a startling truth about heart disease and poverty. Black women under the age of fifty who were in the lower socioeconomic brackets were more than twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, compared to women who had greater financial resources.

Men and women who are in their late twenties to their early forties are three times more likely to suffer a cardiac event if they have a low income. These numbers are frightening, and eye opening.

Why have people with poverty higher risks of stroke?

There are several contributing factors as to why people from a lower socioeconomic status might have higher chances of heart attacks or stroke. The number one reason is diet.

People who have more available income eat diets that are filled with fresher fruits and vegetables. In the United States, the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables causes the lower socioeconomic groups to have to forego eating these items. In lower socioeconomic groups the people are more likely to eat high fat, high sodium foods because these foods are cheaper to buy and cheaper to prepare.

The high fat and high sodium foods often lead to health condition like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. All of these conditions increase a person’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

A sedentary lifestyle is the second leading cause to increased heart attacks and strokes amongst people with lower incomes. One reason is that the people with the lower incomes are eating the high fat foods that cause obesity. These foods often make a person feel lethargic, and make them less likely to want to get up and be active.

The other reason is that people with lower income levels cannot afford to get out and do many of the physical things that people with higher incomes enjoy. Lower income families cannot join gyms, they may not own exercise equipment like bicycles, or sporting equipment. People with higher incomes do go to beaches and lakes more often, they swim, ride horses, go to gyms to work out, ride bicycles, and engage in sports and physical games.

What does this mean for the future?

This means that the health care professionals, and the government must start to work together to educate people in lower income households on preventive measures for heart disease. It also means that the government is going to have to make a way to reduce the prices for fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats so that people from lower income households can make changes in their diets that will improve their quality of life, and reduce their health risks.

When we pull together as a nation and address problems like these, we will effectively reduce hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer. We will also lower the amount of money that is spent on health care by the government agencies that help lower income households.