German Study: Connection between Poverty Status and Cardiovascular Risk

Over the past 30 years, many studies have shown how economically disadvantaged people tend to have a shorter life expectancy than their richer counterparts. Social differences play a significant role in determining the numbers and likelihood of cardiovascular disease. Higher psychosocial stress at work and increased poor lifestyle choices are some of the common factors that affect this. Further, the added stress in personal life and decreased resources (e.g. social, financial and personal) have significant influence as well.

Specifically, in Germany, these studies further show that there is also a close connection between 1) social status and 2) health and 3) diseases such as cardiovascular diseases. These findings came out in a research project by Thomas Lampert from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. Lampert evaluated various scientific literature sources, which was presented at a conference on “Poverty and Health” earlier this year (March 2018).

According to the Lampert, the German study results are in line with the wider international picture on health. His findings show that the poverty level has a direct relation to cardiovascular risk in Germany. Some of the clear indications affecting individuals from socially disadvantaged backgrounds are:

  • Suffer a heart attack or stroke two to three times more frequently than people who live in better conditions
  • Worse recovery even though they receive similar care in hospital
  • Smoke more often in Germany
  • More likely to be overweight
  • Unhealthier daily nutrition, less daily exercise and lifestyle choices
  • Exposure to negative health factors at work
  • Workplace stress (high output expectations, and less workplace autonomy)
  • Less frequent visits to medical professional and
  • Slower reaction times when health issues arise

Lampert’s research clearly points to the direct relationship between socioeconomic status, psychosocial stressors and cardiovascular diseases. The implications for the German healthcare community suggests that social and educational policies should focus on behavioral approaches and prevention within the affected communities. In short, it is never too early to teach people about cardiovascular risk factors. Programs aimed at the prevention of cardiovascular disease should begin in children and adolescents.

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