Social Determinants of Health Impact on Cardiovascular Disease

Have you ever thought about how where you live impacts your health? If not, take a moment to think about this. Have you ever felt that you had limited access to healthcare services due to the area you live in? Have you ever felt that you had educational barriers that prevented you from pursuing an opportunity?

These questions are all questions that people are answering yes to. Not only do they have environmental problems that are affecting their wellbeing, but they also have social problems. Their health is negatively impacted due to the factors that fall under the social determinants of health. To make matters worse, certain racial and gender groups are experiencing health disparities in terms of the care they are receiving which impacts their over health and life expectancy.

Social determinants of health (SDoH) is actually a term that is defined as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels” by the World Health Organization. Things that fall under the SDoH have a huge influence on the health of many individuals. After the CDC completed a survey from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, they found that many of these individuals are facing all types of impact due to SDoH: “ food insecurity, financial stability, and healthcare access — on CVDs as a whole” (Shaw, 2020). For instance, 27.5% of people who were experiencing food insecurity had CVD compared to 21.2% who were not food insecure (Shaw, 2020). 14.5% of people with CDV were affected somehow by SDoH compared to 8.78% and 18.2% of people who had CVD were affected by financial insecurity compared to 8.32% (Shaw, 2020). These individuals that fall under a certain racial and gender groups also experience health disparities in terms of the care they are receiving. “Scientific evidence also shows that, compared with men, women receive less treatment for both cardiovascular risk factors and CVD, and have increased mortality after myocardial infarction (Atkinson, 2011). Thus, it is clear that those who are affected by SDoH factors are at higher risk of developing diseases such as CVD.

It is very important to be educated on the social determinants of health and the impact it has on the increased risk of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases. The goal of this blog is to inspire individuals to take action and try to give back to these communities. It is important to be aware of these issues before someone can take action. I, myself, can speak on the importance of giving back to these communities and how much it means to them and me.

Working with an underserved population through Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center (AHC) gave me a firsthand look at the challenges faced by urban underserved communities. I felt compelled to empower more individuals with this knowledge and spread awareness; therefore, I taught high school students about mental health and collaborated with them to inform others at public events. I also taught them about how the SDoH puts these vulnerable populations at increased risks for diseases, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD). In fact, CVD is one of the leading causes of death in many countries worldwide and is on the path of being the leading cause of death by 2030.

Through service, I built a connection with the East Harlem community by addressing its greater needs. I realize that as we go about our everyday lives, we often feel as though we are making great strides until we encounter a situation such as this — one that challenges our willingness to correct a wrong, or allows us to leave a lasting, helpful impression upon those in need even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone. The warm smiles on the faces of those whom I have helped and their acknowledgments of gratitude when they learned about available resources, has humbled me. I became more aware of differences between communities of varying socioeconomic status, and how easy it is to take for granted what I have.

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