Housing Inequality and Heart Disease

Today we are talking about a recent statement from the American Heart Association which found a link between housing stability and poor cardiovascular health.

The review of research on housing’s impact on heart disease found that the steady stress from lack of quality housing increases important risk factors for some heavy issues, like strokes and heart attacks. It impacts everything from someone’s ability to eat healthy and sleep consistently, to their ability to seek medical attention and fill prescriptions. 

Mario Sims, a professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, says these factors prevent people from getting adequate treatment which would ultimately decrease risk factors like high cholesterol, smoking, and high blood pressure.

The standard for this term “homeless” follows how it’s defined by the federal government: those who live in temporary housing like hotels, shelters, or with friends, those living on the street, and serial renters who move often.

In the research, they found 60 percent of heart disease-related deaths were correlated with smoking and 25 percent suffered from a mental illness which may have contributed to delayed diagnosis and intermittent medical care.

Another contributing factor was air quality in low-quality housing. Homes falling apart or with heating and cooling issues expose people to mold or other pollutants like first-hand or second-hand smoke. 

Core to this is what the article called “residential segregation and bias” – that people living in older public housing and low-income housing are more likely to have heart disease. It looked at how foreclosures during the 2007-2010 great recession highlighted disparity in healthy, safe, consistent housing and poor heart health. If found both that Black and Hispanic communities in areas at risk of foreclosure had higher rates of heart attacks and strokes among some age groups and higher rates of high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Food for thought at a time where we’re talking actively about racial equality in this country.

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By Ben Garves

Ben Garves is a digital product expert, author, entertainer, and activist. His portfolio of thought leadership in digital marketing and web experiences has included major clients like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, eBay, Facebook, and Bloomberg. He’s also a freelance health and fitness journalist with over 400 stories written since 2018, a podcaster with 200 episodes to his name, and runs a YouTube channel with over 100 fitness and activism-oriented videos and live streams. Ben has founded the Fitness is for Everyone™ initiative to raise awareness about social injustice in both racial inequality and socioeconomic disparity in access to quality fitness and nutrition options around the globe.

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