Nearly 13.7 million households in the United States were food insecure at some time during 2019, a trend likely to rise in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasing rates of food insecurity are independently linked to an increase in cardiovascular death rates among adults between the ages of 20 and 64, finds a new study. The findings of the study are published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
The large-scale, national study provides evidence of the connection between food insecurity and increased risk of cardiovascular death. This is one of the first national studies to evaluate food security changes and cardiovascular death over time and see if changes in food insecurity impact heart health.
"This study gives us a better understanding of the link between economic distress and cardiovascular disease," stated Sameed Khatana, senior author of the study. "What's going on outside the clinic has a significant influence on patients' health. There are many factors beyond the medicines we may be prescribing that can impact their wellbeing, food insecurity being one of them."
The researchers found that while the overall food insecurity rates for the entire country decreased between 2011 and 2017, the counties with the most increase in food insecurity levels had cardiovascular death rates that grew from 82 to 87 per 100,000 individuals. Additionally, for each 1 percent rise in food insecurity, there was a similar increase in cardiovascular death among non-elderly adults (0.83 percent).
"There has been a developing disparity when it comes to food insecurity, and this data confirms that parts of the country are being left behind. Unfortunately, this may only get more serious as the country grapples with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic," Khatana stated. "However, interventions that promote a community's economic wellbeing could potentially lead to improved community heart health."
The authors aim to study whether interventions that improve food insecurity could lead to better heart health.