Change in Neighborhood Characteristics and Change in Coronary Artery Calcium: A Longitudinal Investigation in the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) Cohort

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Abstract

Background:

Although some evidence shows that neighborhood deprivation is associated with greater subclinical atherosclerosis, prior studies have not identified what aspects of deprived neighborhoods were driving the association.

Methods:

We investigated whether social and physical neighborhood characteristics are related to the progression of subclinical atherosclerosis in 5950 adult participants of the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) during a 12-year follow-up period. We assessed subclinical disease using coronary artery calcium (CAC). Neighborhood features examined included density of recreational facilities, density of healthy food stores, and survey-based measures of availability of healthy foods, walking environment, and social environment. We used econometric fixed-effects models to investigate how change in a given neighborhood exposure is related to simultaneous change in subclinical atherosclerosis.

Results:

Increases in density of neighborhood healthy food stores were associated with decreases in CAC (mean changes in CAC Agatston units per 1-SD increase in neighborhood exposures, −19.99; 95% confidence interval, −35.21 to −4.78) after adjustment for time-varying demographic confounders and computed tomography scanner type. This association remained similar in magnitude after additional adjustment for time-varying behavioral risk factors and depression. The addition of time-varying biomedical factors attenuated associations with CAC slightly (mean changes in CAC per 1-SD increase in neighborhood exposures, −17.60; 95% confidence interval, −32.71 to −2.49). Changes across time in other neighborhood measures were not significantly associated with within-person change in CAC.

Conclusions:

Results from this longitudinal study provide suggestive evidence that greater access to neighborhood healthy food resources may slow the development of coronary atherosclerosis in middle-aged and older adults.

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