News Release 

Study shows socioeconomic status linked to heart failure mortality in United States

Research highlights importance of addressing socioeconomic factors to improve outcomes

University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center

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Credit: University Hospitals

CLEVELAND -- Heart failure is a medical condition that results when the heart muscle is not strong enough to effectively circulate blood. A variety of treatments exist to address this disease, yet it continues to carry a poor prognosis. A new study from University Hospitals showed that a person's address can help predict their chance of mortality from heart disease.

The study found that the variability in heart failure mortality in the United States is at least partially explained by measures of wealth and socioeconomic status. In the United States, counties that have high rates of poverty and other measures of social deprivation also have higher rates of death from heart failure. Socioeconomic status may play an important role in heart failure because access to expensive medications and other therapies can be more available in affluent communities. Furthermore, areas with higher poverty levels may have reduced access to quality healthcare in general.

The study analyzed 1,254,991 heart failure deaths across 3,048 counties between 1999 and 2018. The investigators used multiple indicators of employment, poverty, income, housing and education to determine a person's level of socioeconomic deprivation.

This study highlights the importance of addressing socioeconomic factors to improve heart failure outcomes nationally.

"Analysis of trends in heart failure mortality shows that these disparities have persisted throughout the last two decades" said Graham Bevan, MD, a resident physician at University Hospitals and the first author of the study.

"Living in a particular county should not mean you're more likely to die from heart failure," said Sadeer G. Al-Kindi, MD, cardiologist with UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute. "University Hospitals has a history of addressing health care disparities in underserved communities and armed with the information from this study, we can thoughtfully create solutions to better serve these populations."

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The study, Socioeconomic Deprivation and Heart Failure Mortality in the United States, was published in the Journal of Cardiac Failure.

About University Hospitals / Cleveland, Ohio

Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system's flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, located in Cleveland's University Circle, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The main campus also includes University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation; University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, a high-volume national referral center for complex cardiovascular procedures; and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. UH is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research programs in the nation, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics, radiology, neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, digestive health, transplantation and urology. UH Cleveland Medical Center is perennially among the highest performers in national ranking surveys, including "America's Best Hospitals" from U.S. News & World Report. UH is also home to Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals - part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development. UH is one of the largest employers in Northeast Ohio with 28,000 physicians and employees.

Advancing the Science of Health and the Art of Compassion is UH's vision for benefitting its patients into the future, and the organization's unwavering mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Discover. Follow UH on LinkedIn, Facebook @UniversityHospitals and Twitter @UHhospitals. For more information, visit UHhospitals.org.

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