Background: Research has not firmly established whether living in a deprived neighborhood predicts the incidence and case fatality of coronary heart disease (CHD), and whether effects vary across sociodemographic groups.
Methods: Prospective follow-up study of all Swedish women and men, aged 35 to 74 (1.9 million women, 1.8 million men). Women and men, without a history of CHD, were assessed on December 31, 1995, and followed from January 1, 1996 through December 31, 2000, for first fatal or nonfatal CHD event (130,024 cases); data were analyzed in 2006. Neighborhood-level deprivation (index of education, income, unemployment, welfare assistance) was categorized as low, moderate, and high deprivation.
Results: Age-standardized CHD incidence was 1.9 times higher for women and 1.5 times higher for men in high- versus low-deprivation neighborhoods; 1-year case fatality from CHD was 1.6 times higher for women and 1.7 times higher for men in high versus low deprivation neighborhoods. The higher incidence in more deprived neighborhoods was observed across all individual-level sociodemographic groups (age, marital status, family income, education, immigration status, mobility, and urban/rural status). In multilevel logistic regression models, neighborhood deprivation remained significantly associated with both CHD incidence and case fatality for women and men after adjusting for the seven sociodemographic factors (p values <0.01). Effects were slightly stronger for women than men in an ancillary analysis that tested for gender differences.
Conclusions: The clustering of CHD and subsequent mortality among adults in deprived neighborhoods raises important clinical and public health concerns, and calls for a reframing of health problems to include neighborhood social environments, as they may affect health.