Higher Income and Education Linked to Post Heart Attack Mortality Rates

By on June 16, 2013
Are you likely to live longer after a heart attack if you have a higher income? Accoprding to a new study out of Canada, being poor is related, like smoking and diet are, to your chances for recovery. Education was also found to be a factor in recovery success.

Poor Canadians are twice as likely to die ten years after a heart attack than wealthy Canadians, even with equal access to health care. The difference in mortality is linked to the wealthier patients capacity to exercise.

The relationship between poverty, disease and death has been known for some time. Medical conditions including mental illness, asthma and infant mortality drop as income rises. Now it appears that the wealthier you are the healthier you are even with the same health care availability.

The Director of the Center for Health and Community at the University of California in San Francisco says that what is going on with you physiologically socially and behaviourally influences your health and susceptibility to disease. These factors do not change regardless of the quality of medical care available.

Heart Attack Mortality: Income and Education

The most recent study took place at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and followed over 1,300 Ontario residents who had suffered a heart attack sometime between 1999 and 2003.

Ten years after having a heart attack, more than one-third of those in the lowest income group (those making $30,000 or less) had died. This was in comparison to only 15 percent of the highest income earners ($60,000 or more). Middle income earners had a 27 percent mortality rate.

Researchers found similar patterns when educational status was considered. The higher the education, the less likely someone was to die within ten years having a heart attack.

There were many causal reasons cited for the findings including the fact that lower income patients were less active than wealthier patients. In addition, less affluent patients were less likely to make good health choices and low income earners and may also suffer from other health complications or disabilities.

Exercise, for the most part, is not routinely integrated into post surgical care, and less than 30% of Canadians are admitted to cardiac rehabilitation after heart surgery. Although there may be much discussion about the importance of physical activity, very little is done to integrate it into after care programs, which leaves patients on their own to exercise or remain sedentary. Wealthier patients may have access to a gym, personal trainer or other tools that those with less money.

In Canada, 70,000 people die each year from heart attacks, heart disease, stroke and heart failure according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Of the 70,000, 16,000 die from a heart attack. According to health experts, many deaths due to heart diseae could be averted if people would embrace a healthy lifestyle including a whole food diet and exercise.

Sadly, 600,000 Americans die each year from cardiovascular related problems in a country where the gap between the poor and rich is increasing and the wealthy live longer than the poor.

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