Homelessness, poor housing is bad for the heart, American Heart Association says

Homelessness and poor housing quality can have a negative effect on a person's heart health, the American Heart Association says.

The association, which published its statement in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, examined current research about how housing stability, safety, affordability and lack of access to high quality housing and neighborhood environment affect the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

People who are homeless are far likelier than the general population to have cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, strokes and heart failure, according to a study cited in the statement. This is "largely due to psychosocial stressors, unhealthy behaviors used as coping mechanisms and barriers to healthcare, including lack of insurance and stigmatization among this population," said Mario Sims, PhD, chair of the writing group for the scientific statement and professor in the department of medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Housing insecurity can adversely affect the ability of a person to eat properly, sleep well and schedule medical appointments regularly, Dr. Sims said. The instability makes it harder to reduce cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and tobacco use.

Poor housing quality or homelessness can affect a person's mental health, linked to heart and blood vessel health in both children and adults.

"Providing equitable housing opportunities may improve cardiovascular health," the organization states.

More articles on cardiology:
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