Previous studies have shown that certain ethnic and racial groups have a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease than others. However, this is one of the first studies to show that socioeconomic factors play a larger role than does race.
Investigators from the University of California at Los Angeles examined the health records of 12,154 study participants and considered their economic standing.
They found that those who had the lowest socioeconomic status had the highest cardiovascular risk. The rate of increased risk was consistent across all ethnic and racial categories.
"Socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals need to be specifically targeted for early risk detection and management and health behavior counseling if we are to improve the cardiovascular health of the nation," wrote lead researcher Arun Karlamangla in the study's report.
He added that the findings may help doctors identify patients who are at the highest risk for heart problems.