Food insecurity raises death risk for heart disease, study finds

The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic and social toll has exacerbated food insecurity, and those facing this issue may have an increased cardiovascular death risk, according to research published Nov. 9 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes

Researchers analyzed cardiovascular and food insecurity rates among adults ages 20 to 64 and 65 and over between 2011 and 2017 from 3,142 counties across the country using data from the National Center for Health Statistics. They compared cardiovascular mortality rates by quartiles of mean annual percent change in food insecurity and found that in counties with the highest increase in food insecurity, the death risk increased from 82 to 87 per 100,000 individuals. The mortality rate also increased 0.83 percent along with every 1 percent increase in food insecurity.

The findings may be linked to the prevalence of risk factors among those facing food insecurity, including diabetes, hypertension and medication access, the researchers said. 

“There has been growing disparity when it comes to food insecurity, and this data demonstrates that parts of the country are being left behind,” Sameed Khatana, MD, study author, said in a news release. “However, interventions that improve a community’s economic well-being could potentially lead to improved community cardiovascular health.” 

The research team now plans to study whether measures that improve food security also lead to better cardiovascular outcomes.

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