Is your home bad for your heart?

Is your home bad for your heart?

According to recent findings in an American Heart Association (AHA) journal, neighborhood factors could contribute to nearly five percent of heart failure risk.

Loren Lipworth, a co-senior author of the study, says research has already shown that, along with an individual’s cardiovascular risk factors, socioeconomic factors like an individual’s income and education level play a role in heart failure risk.

What makes this study unique is that it compared heart failure rates of 27,078 study participants with neighborhood-level socioeconomic factors, including wealth, education and housing patterns, to study the effect of a person’s surroundings.

“A person’s risk of heart failure is really determined by a variety of factors,” says Dr. Mugurel Bazavan, a cardiologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “While physical factors are obviously important, socioeconomic factors and the resources he or she may have in their environment can play a key role, as well.”

Over 50 percent of those who participated in the study lived in deprived neighborhoods. Nearly 39 percent had less than a high-school education, and 70 percent earned less than $15,000 annually. To add to that, 44 percent were obese, which can lead to several other health risks. In a five-year follow up of the study, 4,300 participants had been diagnosed with heart failure.

“Risk factors for heart failure can include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, among others,” says Dr. Bazavan. “These factors can be heavily influenced by the resources a person has at his or her disposal, such as access to medical care, grocery stores offering healthy options and fitness facilities.”

Dr. Bazavan recommends sticking to a healthy diet as much as possible and getting regular exercise at least four times per week to help prevent heart disease and stay healthy.

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About the Author

Adila Esaak
Adila Esaak

Adila Esaak is a senior at Loyola University of Chicago. This spring, she will receive her B.S. in Health Systems Management. During her time at Loyola, she worked at the university’s Wellness Center and started a chapter organization for underprivileged children and women in India called Aahana. In her spare time, she enjoys going to arcades, cuddling with her cat and exploring Chicago.