Sian Claire Owen, medical journalist for Cardio Debate, UK

The link between poverty and cardiovascular disease (CVD) is well established. [1] However, less research has focused on the relationship between socioeconomic status and secondary CV events after an initial myocardial infarction.

In order to examine this link, researchers carried out a nationwide cohort study using data from the SWEDEHEART 2006-2014 registry. In this study, published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, information from 29,226 men and women aged 40 to 76 years was analysed, including disposable income, marital status and educational level. The primary endpoint was first recurrent event of atherosclerotic CVD (non-fatal MI, CHD death, or fatal or non-fatal stroke). [2]

Of these, first recurrent CVD events occurred during a 4.1 year follow-up in 2284 (7.8 per cent) patients. Both socioeconomic status and marital status were linked with the primary endpoints. The study authors concluded that the risk of secondary CVD events were predicted by disposable income, education level and marital status.

These findings are consistent with previous research that showed lifelong poverty to result in an ‘accumulation of risk’ for heart disease. In this 2009 study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, of 1800 adults, those who were both economically and educationally disadvantaged in early life were 82 per cent more likely to develop heart disease in later life. [3]

Although this information is not new, data published in 2017 from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that there are 400,000 more children living in poverty today than five years ago, and around 14 million people in the UK are living in poverty. [4]

This trend must be reversed, otherwise we risk creating a dangerous public health issue for the near future.