Health Inequalities

Tackling health inequalities and raising awareness

Cardio Wellness as an organisation was setup specifically to tackle health inequality, raise awareness and educate the local community at a grass root level on key health issues affecting certain ethnic groups in the UK. Specifically:

  • Death rates from coronary heart disease among first generation South Asian adults are approximately 50% higher than the England and Wales average
  • Type 2 diabetes is up to six times more common in South Asian people and up to x 3 more common among people of African and African-Caribbean origin
  • Diagnoses of schizophrenia are up to six times higher among African-Caribbean groups than in the majority population
  • Cases of CHD are particularly high in the UK’s South Asian community, where the number of people with diabetes is five times higher than the national average

Specifically regarding cardio vascular disease:

Mortality rates from CHD are 46 per cent higher for men and 51 per cent higher for women of South Asian origin than in the non-Asian population.

In more than 90% of cases, the risk of a first heart attack is related to potentially modifiable risk factors, including smoking, poor diet, obesity/overweight, and insufficient physical activity.

‘It is not better treatment but prevention - ... including tackling the wider social factors that influence health – which is likely to deliver greater overall increases in healthy life expectancy’

Diet and lack of exercise are perhaps generic problems for socially disadvantaged groups. People of South Asian origin living in the UK, for instance, tend to have low levels of physical activity and fitness compared to the general population.

As with the general population, smoking prevalence in Black and other minority groups tends to decrease with age with the highest rates in those aged 16-34. Exceptions are Black Caribbean and South Asian men in whom prevalence is highest in those aged 35-54.

Age-standardized limiting long-term illness by ethnic group and sex, April 2001, England & Wales

Is there inequality in health care?

Evidence shows that South Asians are less likely to be prescribed lipid lowering medication (for reasons that are as yet unclear) and more likely to decline and drop out from cardiac rehabilitation programmes. In addition they are more likely to present with atypical symptoms after myocardial infarction, which may delay diagnosis and optimal intervention.

The observed inequality may partially be a result of the “attitude of not taking advantage of the health service, ”lack of awareness of coronary heart disease,” and the “linguistic and cultural barriers” seen in this population.