Association Between Community-Level Violent Crime and Cardiovascular Mortality in Chicago: A Longitudinal Analysis

J Am Heart Assoc. 2022 Jul 19;11(14):e025168. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.122.025168. Epub 2022 Jul 14.


Background Violent crime has recently increased in many major metropolitan cities in the United States. Prior studies suggest an association between neighborhood crime levels and cardiovascular disease, but many have been limited by cross-sectional designs. We investigated whether longitudinal changes in violent crime rates are associated with changes in cardiovascular mortality rates at the community level in one large US city-Chicago, IL. Methods and Results Chicago is composed of 77 community areas. Age-adjusted mortality rates by community area for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary artery disease from 2000 to 2014, aggregated at 5-year intervals, were obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health Division of Vital Records. Mean total and violent crime rates by community area were obtained from the City of Chicago Police Data Portal. Using a 2-way fixed effects estimator, we assessed the association between longitudinal changes in violent crime and cardiovascular mortality rates after accounting for changes in demographic and economic variables and secular time trends at the community area level from 2000 to 2014. Between 2000 and 2014, the median violent crime rate in Chicago decreased from 3620 per 100 000 (interquartile range [IQR], 2256, 7777) in the 2000 to 2004 period to 2390 (IQR 1507, 5745) in the 2010 to 2014 period (P=0.005 for trend). In the fixed effects model a 1% decrease in community area violent crime rate was associated with a 0.21% (95% CI, 0.09-0.33) decrease in cardiovascular mortality rates (P=<0.001) and a 0.19% (95% CI, 0.04-0.33) decrease in coronary artery disease mortality rates (P=0.01). There was no statistically significant association between change in violent crime and stroke mortality rates (-0.17% [95% CI, -0.42 to 0.08; P=0.18]). Conclusions From 2000 to 2014, a greater decrease in violent crime at the community area level was associated with a greater decrease in cardiovascular and coronary artery disease mortality rates in Chicago. These findings add to the growing evidence of the impact of the built environment on health and implicate violent crime exposure as a potential social determinant of cardiovascular health. Targeted investment in communities to decrease violent crime may improve community cardiovascular health.

Keywords: built environment; cardiovascular disease; crime; mortality; social determinants of health; structural racism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease*
  • Crime
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke*
  • United States
  • Violence