Cardiovascular Disease and Homelessness

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018 Jun 5;71(22):2585-2597. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.02.077.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of death among homeless adults, at rates that exceed those in nonhomeless individuals. A complex set of factors contributes to this disparity. In addition to a high prevalence of cigarette smoking and suboptimal control of traditional CVD risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes, a heavy burden of nontraditional psychosocial risk factors like chronic stress, depression, heavy alcohol use, and cocaine use may confer additional risk for adverse CVD outcomes beyond that predicted by conventional risk estimation methods. Poor health care access and logistical challenges to cardiac testing may lead to delays in presentation and diagnosis. The management of established CVD may be further challenged by barriers to medication adherence, communication, and timely follow-up. The authors present practical, patient-centered strategies for addressing these challenges, emphasizing the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration and partnership with homeless-tailored clinical programs to improve CVD outcomes in this population.

Keywords: cardiovascular diseases; health care disparities; health status disparities; homeless persons; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Health Services Accessibility* / trends
  • Homeless Persons / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy