Purpose of review: The impact of socioeconomic status on hypertension is complicated and unclear. In this article, we review the findings of recently published studies pertaining to the association between socioeconomic status and hypertension. Specifically, we focus on several potentially modifiable modes of pathogenesis involved in this association, including education, occupation, and social environment. We also review several mechanisms through which the effects of socioeconomic status on hypertension may be mediated.
Recent findings: Several modifiable socioeconomic determinants, such as education and occupation, are associated with hypertension. Additional socioeconomic status markers such as urban or rural dwelling and individual, local or national economic conditions are also associated with hypertension, although these associations are complicated and at times somewhat contradictory. Possible explanations for this impact include awareness of hypertension prevention and control and better accessibility and adherence to medical treatment among higher socioeconomic status groups, as well as low birth weight and higher job strain among lower socioeconomic status groups.
Summary: Low socioeconomic status is associated with higher blood pressure. There is a need to develop and test culturally appropriate interventions to reduce the prevalence of hypertension among these populations to minimize the resultant cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.