Area social characteristics and carotid atherosclerosis.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: To explore the effect of social characteristics of residential areas on carotid atherosclerosis
Methods and results: The associations among area social characteristics and B-mode ultrasound
determined carotid plaque-score (a semi-quantitative scale measuring the degree of atherosclerosis in
the carotid bifurcation area) were cross-sectionally investigated in a general population sample of 4033
men and women. Area socioeconomic circumstances were described through a social deprivation index
calculated from migration rate, percentage residents with foreign citizenship among those with foreign
background, dependency on social welfare support, and employment rate. Living in socially deprived
areas was associated with an increased carotid plaque-score in both men (P for trend ¼ 0.004) and
women (P for trend ¼ 0.007). These associations were only slightly reduced after adjustment for
individual level indicators with a decrease of the absolute mean difference in carotid plaque-score
between worse-off and better-off areas of 9% for men and 13% for women, whereas adjustment for
risk factors turned the trend non-significant in women, however, not in men.
Conclusions: Those living in socially deprived areas in general had more extensive carotid
atherosclerosis. However, in these areas there were a substantial number of individuals with low
degrees of carotid atherosclerosis and vice versa. Thus, with regard to conceptual ideas of causal
inference, the social characteristics of an area seem to be associated with the prevalence of carotid
atherosclerosis. However, with regard to benefits of prevention, focusing on geographical areas would
probably give a restricted benefit, where only some high-risk individuals would be reached.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • social context, cardiovascular diseases, socioeconomic factors, carotid arteries, atherosclerosis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-339
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch