Universal Health Care May Lessen Income's Impact on Heart
MONDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- In Australia, where
universal health care is available to all, heart disease is not
much more prevalent among poor citizens than it is among the rich,
a new study has found.
While the researchers say that differences in risk do exist
between the socioeconomic groups, the differences are minimal,
despite the fact that heart disease is typically thought of as more
prevalent in poorer communities.
The analysis, led by Andrea Driscoll, a senior research fellow
at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, is scheduled for
presentation Monday at the annual meeting of the American Heart
Association, held in Chicago.
To explore the subject, Driscoll and her team tallied heart
disease incidence among almost 10,000 patients who were being cared
for by nearly 1,300 Australian doctors spread across regions
ranging from wealthy to disadvantaged.
The investigators found that men living in poor areas had only a
slightly greater risk for heart disease than men in richer parts of
the country. Risk differences among women were non-existent.
However, heart disease risk did appear to go up a bit as wealth
fell, rising 7 percent in the disadvantaged areas.
This, the study team suggested, was in part a function of higher
smoking rates in poorer regions; whereas 6 percent of residents in
rich communities smoked, that figure rose to 13 percent in less
Driscoll and colleagues also found that poorer households were
more likely to be taking a cholesterol-lowering drug and had lower
cholesterol levels. While 39 percent of patients in wealthy areas
were on such a regimen, 50 percent of those in poor areas were
prescribed this form of treatment.
Experts note that research presented at meetings is not
subjected to the same type of scrutiny given to research published
in peer-reviewed journals.
For more on health care disparities in the United States, visit
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
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