Socioeconomic status and cardiovascular risk factors in the Czech Republic

Int J Epidemiol. 1999 Feb;28(1):46-52. doi: 10.1093/ije/28.1.46.


Background: In western countries, prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and most risk factors is higher in lower socioeconomic groups. The social gradients in the former communist societies are less well known. Because in western countries different indicators of socioeconomic status (SES) are correlated, this gradient is found with a number of different measures of SES. We have analysed the presence and magnitude of the socioeconomic gradient in cardiovascular risk factors in a former communist country. As the relationship between material conditions and education has been much weaker than in the west, we have also attempted to separate their effects.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey examined a random sample of men and women resident in six Czech districts participating in the MONICA study in 1992. Participants completed a questionnaire, underwent anthropometric and blood pressure measurements, and provided a blood sample. Two indicators of SES were used: education and material conditions, the indicator constructed from car ownership and crowding. Linear regression was employed to analyse the relation between SES and total and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), waist-hip ratio (WHR) and height. Logistic regression was used to assess the association between SES and smoking and hypertension.

Results: A total of 1141 men and 1212 women (overall response rate 75%) participated in the study. After controlling for age, all risk factors were associated with education, except HDL cholesterol in women and BMI in men; only smoking in both sexes and WHR in women and height in men were significantly related to material conditions. In mutually adjusted analyses, educational gradients persisted but associations with material conditions disappeared or became substantially weaker. The magnitude of the educational differences was similar to those found in western countries.

Conclusions: Socioeconomic differences in cardiovascular risk factors in Czech Republic in 1992 had the same direction and similar magnitude as in Western Europe, and were strongly related to education rather than material conditions. Materialist explanations for the social differences seem unlikely in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Czech Republic / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Cholesterol