Persistent socioeconomic disparities in cardiovascular risk factors and health in the United States: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey 2002–2013


      Background and aims

      Socioeconomic status (SES) has been linked to worse cardiovascular risk factor (CRF) profiles and higher rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD), with an especially high burden of disease for low-income groups. We aimed to describe the trends in prevalence of CRFs among US adults by SES from 2002 to 2013.


      Data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey was analyzed. CRFs (obesity, diabetes, hypertension, physical inactivity, smoking and hypercholesterolemia), were ascertained by ICD-9-CM and/or self-report.


      The proportion of individuals with obesity, diabetes and hypertension increased overall, with low-income groups representing a higher prevalence for each CRF. Of note, physical inactivity had the highest prevalence increase, with the “lowest-income” group observing a relative percent increase of 71.1%.


      Disparities in CRF burden continue to increase, across SES groups. Strategies to potentially eliminate the persistent health disparities gap may include a shift to greater coverage for prevention, and efforts to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors.


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