While most studies of economic risk factors for health look at income, understanding how wealth impacts well-being may be key to predicting and preventing sicknesses related to social status, according to a new study by Harvard Medical School researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and colleagues at the London School of Economics and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
The retrospective study examines associations between wealth mobility and long-term cardiovascular health, finding that negative wealth mobility is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, while positive wealth changes are associated with a decreased risk. The results are published in JAMA Cardiology.
“Low wealth is a risk factor that can dynamically change over a person’s life and can influence a person’s cardiovascular health status,” said Muthiah Vaduganathan, HMS instructor in medicine in Brigham and Women’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. “So, it’s a window of opportunity we have for an at-risk population. Buffering large changes in wealth should be an important focus for health policy moving ahead.”
The multidisciplinary study leveraged data from the RAND Health and Retirement Study