COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio State University published a study Wednesday showing socioeconomic status may be an uneven predictor of heart health.

In other words, having a higher socioeconomic status leads to a healthier heart, but some groups showed more improvement than others.

“We really want to make a difference and close that gap that we see in the study,” said OSU associate professor of internal medicine Dr. Joshua Joseph.

The study suggests heart disease prevention efforts should not rely solely on reducing socioeconomic disparities by race and ethnic groups but should also address other social determinants of health that drive cardiovascular health inequities. 

Those factors include psychosocial stress experienced by people in different groups due to medical mistrust and unequal access to care and wealth, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

The analysis found that across all participants, higher socioeconomic status was linked with better heart health, as indicated by higher average Life’s Essential 8 scores, a 0-100 scale.

“So for instance, there was a 15-point improvement for college education versus high school education or less in non-Hispanic white Americans and only a 10-point improvement in non-Hispanic Black Americans,” Joseph said. “We were surprised by these findings. We felt that it will be equivalent across racial and ethnic groups.”

The study concluded that heart prevention efforts should look at a variety of factors that may drive these inequities.

Joseph said the next step in the research is to evaluate populations with socioeconomic status and cardiovascular health measured over many years to understand how changes in socioeconomic status over time drive changes in cardiovascular health as measured by Life’s Essential 8.

OSU is making an investment in the community by opening up the Community Health Center on the Near East Side in 2024.

“This is a historically marginalized community which we know through promoting heart-healthy activities like nutrition and wellness there as well as addressing those social determinants of health that may be leading to some of those limitations and increases in heart health,” Joseph said.

Joseph said the goal is to continue closing the health gaps in communities across Columbus.