Objective: To determine the role of obesity, adult behavioural risk factors, and markers of specific childhood exposures in the association between adult socioeconomic position and hypertension in a cohort of people aged 60 years and older.
Design: Cross sectional study.
Participants: 4009 subjects representative of the Spanish non-institutionalised population aged 60 years and older.
Main outcome measure: Prevalence of hypertension according to education and social class, and proportion of excess difference in hypertension prevalence in lower socioeconomic groups explained by different risk factors for hypertension.
Results: The highest prevalence of hypertension was seen in subjects with less education and in those belonging to a low social class. In men, the hypertension risk factors analysed did not explain the difference in prevalence by education, but they explained almost half of the difference by social class. In women, these risk factors explained the differences in hypertension prevalence by education and a substantial part of the differences by social class. Central and general obesity, and physical inactivity were the risk factors that were the most important in this association in women.
Conclusions: In women, socioeconomic position has no direct effect on hypertension in the case of education and only a small effect in the case of social class. In contrast, most of the effect of education and half of the effect of social class on hypertension in men is direct or, at least, is not explained by the risk factors analysed. The mechanisms that can explain the association between socioeconomic position and hypertension in older men remain to be established.
- socioeconomic status
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Funding: this study was partially funded by grant ISCIII (Red RCESP C03/09) and grant ISCIII (Retic G03/065).
Conflicts of interest: none declared.
Ethical approval for the use of these data was not required.
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