Social disadvantage and cardiovascular disease: development of an index and analysis of age, sex, and ethnicity effects

Int J Epidemiol. 2006 Oct;35(5):1239-45. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyl163. Epub 2006 Aug 22.


Background: Social disadvantage is defined by adverse socio-economic characteristics and is distributed unequally by age, sex, and ethnicity. We studied the relationship between social disadvantage, cardiovascular risk factors, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) among men and women from diverse ethno-racial backgrounds.

Methods: A total of 1227 men and women of South Asian, Chinese, Aboriginal, and European ancestry were randomly selected from four communities in Canada to undergo a health assessment. Socio-economic factors, conventional and novel CV risk factors, atherosclerosis, and CVD were measured. A social disadvantage index was generated and included employment status, income, and marital status. Social disadvantage was examined in relation to risk factors for CVD, atherosclerosis, and prevalent CVD.

Results: Social disadvantage was higher among older people, women, and non-white ethnic groups. Cigarette smoking, glucose, overweight, abdominal obesity, and CRP were higher among individuals with higher social disadvantage, whereas systolic blood pressure, lipids, norepinephrine, and atherosclerosis were not. Social disadvantage is an independent predictor of CVD after adjustment for conventional and novel risk markers for CVD (OR for 1 point increase = 1.25; 95% CI 1.06-1.47).

Conclusion: The social disadvantage index combines social and economic exposures into a single continuous measure. Significant variation in social disadvantage by age, sex, and ethnic group exists. Increased social disadvantage is associated with an increased burden of some CV risk factors, and is an independently associated with CVD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People / statistics & numerical data