CHAPEL HILL Living in poorer neighborhoods increases the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease, according to a new national study involving more than 13,000 people in four parts of the United States.
As a group, people who lived in better neighborhoods faced a lower risk of heart problems than those from disadvantaged areas, which in this country are often more congested and have higher crime rates, even after controlling for individual income, education, occupation and other factors, the study showed.
Researchers say they arent sure why.
A report on the work appears in the July 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Authors include Dr. Ana V. Diez Roux, assistant professor of medicine and public health at Columbia University, and Drs. Lloyd Chambless, research professor of biostatistics, and Herman Tyroler, professor of epidemiology, both at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health.
This is an important study because it confirms what some people have suspected -- that the neighborhood you live in does relate to your getting heart disease eventually, Chambless said. It doesnt necessarily tell us why, but it suggests that another way of preventing heart disease might be on a neighborhood level.
Increasing access to health care in selected areas and better targeting of public health messages about diet, weight control, exercise and not smoking are among activities that might help prevent or delay heart problems.
The research involved analyzing data from the continuing UNC-based Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, which began in 1987 with medical examinations of 15,792 people, ages 45 to 64, living in four areas. Those were Forsyth County, N.C; Jackson, Miss.; the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis; and Washington County, Md.
Investigators compared that information over time with specific economic data about neighborhoods in which subjects lived.
Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill