Climbing social ladder lessens high blood pressure riskImproves heart health
Upward social mobility appears to limit the risk of developing high blood pressure among poorer people, according to recent research.
Being born poor has been linked to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, which in turn raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The authors of the study looked if the risk of developing high blood pressure fell as people improved their economic situation.
They used data from a study in Sweden that tracked the health and lifestyle habits of 12,000 same sex twins born between 1926 and 1958.
They found that rates of high blood pressure were higher both among adults in low socio-economic groups and among those whose parents were in one of these groups.
Blood pressure rates were also higher among those who had low birth weight, those who weighed more, were short, and those who drank more.
Overall, low socio-economic status was associated with a 42% increased risk of high blood pressure. Among adults, only women of low socio-economic status were at greater risk.
However, compared with those who were stuck in poverty for two generations, the upwardly mobile had an almost 20% reduction in their risk of high blood pressure.
And those who fell further down the social ladder were at increased risk compared with those whose social mobility remained constant on the upper rungs.
The findings held irrespective of other familial factors, prompting the authors to conclude that the risk of high blood pressure associated with being born into a deprived background can be modified by social status in later life.
The research is published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
This article was published on Tue 12 July 2011
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