Health Disparities and Cardiovascular Disease

Document Type



Published in: Healthcare, vol. 8, issue 1, 2020.


The number one leading cause of death in 2017 for Americans was cardiovascular disease (CVD), and health disparities can exacerbate risks. This study evaluates the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) (n = 437,436) to estimate population risks for behavioral, socio-economic, psychological, and biological factors. A general linear model with a quasi-binomial link function indicated higher risks for the following groups: smokers (odds ratio, OR = 0.688), individuals with higher body mass index scores (OR = 1.023), persons unable to work (OR = 2.683), individuals with depression (OR = 1.505), workers who missed more days due to mental issues (OR = 1.12), the elderly, males (OR = 1.954), those in race categories “indigenous Americans, Alaskan non-Hispanics”, “Black Hispanics,” or “other, non-Hispanic,” and individuals with lower income. Surprisingly, increased consumption of alcohol was not found to be a risk factor as in other studies. Additional study of alcohol risk factors is needed. Further, Black non-Hispanics were associated with lower rates of CVD/MI (myocardial infarction), a finding that is supported by recent evidence of more unhealthy behaviors in other races. The results of this study highlight 2018 CVD/MI disparities based on the BRFSS and suggest the need for additional policy interventions including education and providing increased access to health care for the disadvantaged. The principles of beneficence and justice require policy interventions such as these.