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Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 00:04 GMT
Heart disease 'hits poor hardest'
Urban deprivation
Deprivation is linked to ill health
People from the lower socio-economic classes are more likely to suffer heart disease in their thirties, researchers have found.

A team from University College London Medical School led by Dr Helen Colhoun examined the rate of coronary artery calcification - an accurate measure of coronary artery disease - in 149 men and women aged 30-40 years.

They found that being in the manual social class was associated with a significantly higher rate of calcification.

Differences in social class are the cause of thousands of deaths from coronary heart disease in the UK each year

Dr Vivienne Press, British Heart Foundation
The link appeared to remain even after taking account of known risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking and physical activity.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers say that public health campaigns designed to cut rates of heart disease must be targeted at young adults and possibly children.

Undiscovered factors

They believe that the risk of heart disease may be linked to biological factors which have not yet been discovered.

These mechanisms may be profoundly affected by the social circumstances of a patient.

Dr Vivienne Press, medical director of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), welcomed the research.

She said: "This new study underlines what we have known for some time - that differences in social class are the cause of thousands of deaths from coronary heart disease (CHD) in the UK each year.

"The research also echoes the well established fact that the first stages of CHD can begin at an early age.

"That's why the British Heart Foundation is committed to educating young people and children about the importance of developing a healthy and active lifestyle."

Dr Press said a recent BHF report highlighted the fact that around 5,000 men under 65 will die each year from CHD due to social class difference.

"This new study reinforces the need to reduce inequalities in CHD and to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms by which these inequalities arise."

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