Women who live in wealthy states are less likely to suffer heart disease than women from poorer states, new research shows. In the report published in BMC Public Health, scientists have found a connection between state wealth and heart health in women.
Scientific investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a cross-sectional analysis based on data from the Women's Health Study (WHS). The team recruited 26,029 women from the WHS and measured wealth and prosperity, labor productivity, poverty, income inequality, and average annual economic growth on a state by state basis.
These variables were then compared to biomarkers of cardiovascular inflammation in order to determine whether associations between state-level socioeconomic conditions and individual cardiovascular inflammation biomarkers exist.
Their investigation revealed some interesting facts about heart health and socioeconomics.
Women Living In Wealthy States Have Healthy Hearts
Harvard researchers learned that socioeconomic conditions had a significant influence on women's heart health. In fact, women who resided in wealthier states were less likely to suffer cardivascular inflammation than women who lived in less affluent states. For example, high risk values of the C - reactive protein cardiovascular inflammation biomarker was highest in women residing in the most deprived states.
The research performed by the Brigham and Women's Hospital scientists is very important because cardiovascular inflammation is a major predictor of heart disease.
They also noted that women who lived in the wealthiest states (e.g. Connecticut, Massachusetts and California) tended to be younger, more personally wealthy, less likely to smoke, more inclined to exercise, less obese, and less diabetic. On the other hand, women living in the poorest states e.g. Mississippi, Arkansas and West Virginia tended to be less healthy and more inclined toward obesity, diabetes and poor HDL cholesterol profiles.
These data show that state-level economics affected individual health and thus prove that associations between the financial and social stability of a state and individual risk of heart inflammation does indeed exist.
Put another way, the wealthier the state, the less likely it is for women residing there to be at risk of cardiovascular inflammation whereas the poorer the state, the higher the risk of heart disease.
Why Do Wealthy States Have Healthier People?
Psychological factors could also be at play. States that had less socioeconomic inequality appeared to have a positive influence on women's health. This suggests that peace of mind influences physical health. (Read my article "Depression Can Increase Stroke Risk" to get insight into the relationship between mental and physical health.)
The results of the Harvard study can give state policymakers and health officials additional tools to work with in order to improve the socioeconomic conditions of the citizenry of their states as this could have a positive impact on the individual health of their citizens.
After analyzing the data, study author Cheryl Clark and her colleagues came to a similar conclusion when they wrote: "... [A]ttention to changes in cardiovascular risk factors associated with evolving state-level socioeconomic conditions may yield insights into the role of state-level policies in the prevention of cardiovascular disease among women."
Of course, you don't have to wait on state policymakers to improve your health and well-being. You can start right now, by taking the Million Hearts pledge to lead a healthy lifestyle. Million Hearts was implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes in the United States by one million over the next five years. You can be part of that by pledging to take better care of yourself.
Click on the Million Hearts link located in our sidebar of our website to learn more about steps you can take to improve your heart health wherever you may live.
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Clark, C., Ridker, P., Ommerborn, M., Huisingh, C., Coull, B., Buring, J., & Berkman, L. (2012). Cardiovascular inflammation in healthy women: multilevel associations with state-level prosperity, productivity and income inequality BMC Public Health, 12 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-211
"Women In Wealthy States Have Healthier Hearts" copyright 2012 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.