Objective: To find out the association between social class and coronary risk factors in women.
Design and setting: Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in six-twelve urban streets in each of five cities from various regions of India following a common study protocol and criteria of diagnosis.
Subjects and methods: We randomly selected 3257 women, aged 25-64 years inclusive, from the cities of Moradabad (n=902), Trivandrum (n=760) Calcutta (n=410), Nagpur (n=405) and Bombay (n=780). Evaluation was by questionnaires validated at Moradabad. All subjects, after pooling of data, were divided into social class 1 (n=985), social class 2 (n=790), social class 3 (n=674), social class 4 (n=602) and social class 5 (n=206), based on various attributes of socioeconomic status.
Results: The prevalence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, family history of coronary disease, obesity, central obesity and sedentary lifestyle were significantly associated with higher social classes and tobacco consumption was not associated with social class. Oral contraceptive intake and postmenopausal status were also more common among higher social classes, which may be due to more education and a longer lifespan among the higher social classes, respectively. Mean total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean body mass index and waist-hip ratio showed significant association with higher social classes. Mean age, body weight, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and 2-h blood glucose were significantly positively correlated with social class, as assessed by Spearman's rank correlation. Higher social classes 1-3 were more common in Trivandrum and Bombay than in Moradabad. The prevalence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus and being overweight (body mass index >25 kg/m2) were also more common in Trivandrum and Bombay compared to Moradabad. Undernutrition was negatively associated with higher social classes and was more common in Moradabad and Nagpur than Trivandrum.
Conclusions: Higher social classes among Indian urban women have a higher prevalence of coronary risk factors, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, being overweight, central obesity, sedentary lifestyle, family history of coronary disease, oral contraceptive intake and postmenopausal status. Mean concentrations of total and high density lipoprotein cholesterol were also significantly associated with higher social classes.