Large health disparities in cardiovascular death in men and women, by ethnicity and socioeconomic status in an urban based population cohort

EClinicalMedicine. 2021 Aug 29:40:101120. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2021.101120. eCollection 2021 Oct.


Background: Socioeconomic status and ethnicity are not incorporated as predictors in country-level cardiovascular risk charts on mainland Europe. The aim of this study was to quantify the sex-specific cardiovascular death rates stratified by ethnicity and socioeconomic factors in an urban population in a universal healthcare system.

Methods: Age-standardized death rates (ASDR) were estimated in a dynamic population, aged 45-75 in the city of The Hague, the Netherlands, over the period 2007-2018, using data of Statistics Netherlands. Results were stratified by sex, ethnicity (country of birth) and socioeconomic status (prosperity) and compared with a European cut-off for high-risk countries (ASDR men 225/100,000 and women 175/100,000).

Findings: In total, 3073 CVD deaths occurred during 1·76 million person years follow-up. Estimated ASDRs (selected countries of birth) ranged from 126 (95%CI 89-174) in Moroccan men to 379 (95%CI 272-518) in Antillean men, and from 86 (95%CI 50-138) in Moroccan women to 170 (95%CI 142-202) in Surinamese women. ASDRs in the highest and lowest prosperity quintiles were 94 (95%CI 90-98) and 343 (95%CI 334-351) for men, and 43 (95%CI 41-46) and 140 (95%CI 135-145), for women, respectively.

Interpretation: In a diverse urban population, large health disparities in cardiovascular ASDRs exists across ethnic and socioeconomic subgroups. Identifying these high-risk subgroups followed by targeted preventive efforts, might provide a basis for improving cardiovascular health equity within communities. Instead of classifying countries as high-risk or low-risk, a shift towards focusing on these subgroups within countries might be needed.

Funding: Leiden University Medical Center and Leiden University.

Keywords: Cardiovascular death; ethnicity; health disparities; health equity; socioeconomic status.