Analysis of inequalities in secondary prevention of coronary heart disease in a universal coverage health care system

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Abstract

Objective

The purpose of this study was to analyse whether differences exist in social class or education level in coronary heart disease (CHD) secondary prevention and in cardiovascular risk factor control in a universal coverage health care system.

Design

Cross-sectional multi-centre study.

Participants and setting

1022 CHD patients recruited from residents in the catchment areas covered by 23 primary health care facilities in Catalonia, Spain.

Main outcome measures

Demographic data, cardiovascular co-morbidity, smoking, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), drug therapy used for secondary prevention, educational level, and social class based on occupation.

Results

Patients at the lowest educational level were more frequently women, older, and diabetic. Patients in the middle educational level were more frequently smokers than those in the highest or the lowest level (24.7, 8.7, and 12.0%, respectively; P=0.008) and had better systolic blood pressure levels (125 mmHg (15), 135 mmHg (16), and 134 mmHg (17), respectively; P=0.001). All educational levels and social classes had similar adjusted rates of risk factor control. Therapeutic management was also similar among all educational levels and social classes, after adjusting for confounders.

Conclusions

CHD patients in the lower SES received similar treatment for secondary prevention and achieved similar control of risk factors. No social inequalities were found in secondary prevention in CHD patients using the National Health System in Spain.

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