Research Shows Your Income Can Impact Your Survival Rate After A Heart Attack

While everyone is at risk of suffering from health conditions, the way you recover could be tied to your income level. Specifically, when it comes to heart attacks, researchers have found that the lower a person's income level, the lower their survival rate after experiencing a heart attack, as reported by U.S. News & World Report.

Led by researcher Dr. Abdul Mannan Khan Minhas, a hospitalist at the Hattiesburg Clinic Hospital Care Service in Mississippi, 639,300 hospitalizations involving a type of heart attack called ST-elevation myocardial infarction, or STEMI for short, were observed (via U.S. News & World Report). Of the cases studied, approximately 19% of patients were in the top tier of income level, and 35% fell in the lowest tier. The latter group of patients, the ones in the lowest income level, experienced the highest death rate of 11.8%, while the patients in the highest income category experienced a death rate of 10.4%. 

The patients in the lowest income level were also more likely to die over two years earlier than wealthier patients, with poorer patients passing away at an average of 63.5 years old compared to 65.7 years old for affluent patients (per U.S. News & World Report). Lower-income patients were also found to be less likely to possess health insurance, which falls in line with other factors like increased tobacco and alcohol consumption, more untreated health issues, and access to healthcare.

Other demographic markers can influence survival rates

The research performed by Dr. Minhas and his team also found that patients with lower survival rates tended to be female. Additionally, Hispanic, Black, and Native American people were among the ethnicities to show lower survival rates (per U.S. News & World Report). These patients also presented with more complex medical histories, meaning that they experienced more than one medical condition upon hospitalization and were generally in poorer health than other patients. The American Heart Association has documented that women are 20% more likely to die within five years of a first significant heart attack than their male counterparts. Women are also 20% more likely than men to develop heart failure.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) that can offer a projection of a person's potential future health outcomes. While there are numerous SDOH markers that can impact a person's health and access to quality healthcare, some examples include reliable transportation, exposure to pollution, access to a healthy and nutritious diet, education and job opportunities, and income level. Without access to a grocery store with nutritious options, or by living in a food swamp where unhealthy options outnumber healthy ones, the result can be an increase in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease that can ultimately lead to major medical events like heart attacks.