Background A negative socioeconomic gradient is established for coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality and survival, while socioeconomic patterning of disease incidence is less well investigated. To study socioeconomic inequalities in the incidence of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), the major component of CHD, a meta-analysis was undertaken to summarise existing evidence on the issue.
Methods A systematic search was performed in PubMed and EMBASE databases for observational studies on AMI incidence and socioeconomic position (SEP), published in English to April 2009. A random-effects model was used to pool the risks estimates from the individual studies.
Results Among 1181 references, 70 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. An overall increased risk of AMI among the lowest SEP was found for all three indicators: income (pooled RR 1.71, 95% CI 1.43 to 2.05), occupation (pooled RR 1.35, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.53) and education (pooled RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.47). The strongest associations were seen in high-income countries such as USA/Canada and Europe, while the results were inconsistent for middle and low-income regions.
Conclusion AMI incidence is associated with low SEP. The nature of social stratification at the level of economic development of a country could be involved in the differences of risk of AMI between social groups.
- Acute myocardial infarction
- epidemiology ME
- ischaemic heart disease
- social inequalities
- socioeconomic position
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EM-G and AS contributed equally.
Funding This work was supported by a grant from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS 2006-0230 to TM), Stockholm, Sweden.
Competing of interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.