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Men with higher incomes are more likely to develop high blood pressure

Twice as likely compared to lowest-income men.

More than one billion people have high blood pressure worldwide. Around 30-45% of adults are affected, rising to more than 60% of people over 60 years of age. High blood pressure is the leading global cause of premature death.

Japan alone has more than 10 million people with high blood pressure, and the number continues to rise.

According to a new study, working men with higher incomes are more likely to develop high blood pressure. The research presented at the 84th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Japanese Circulation Society (JCS 2020).

Study author Dr. Shingo Yanagiya of the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan said, “Men with higher incomes need to improve their lifestyles to prevent high blood pressure. Steps include eating healthily, exercising, and controlling weight. Alcohol should be kept to moderate levels, and binge drinking avoided.”

“High blood pressure is a lifestyle-related disease. As a physician seeing these patients, I wanted to know if risk varies with the socio-economic class to help us focus our prevention efforts.”

The study examined the relationship between household income and high blood pressure in Japanese employees. Almost 4,314 staff (3,153 men and 1,161 women) with daytime jobs and healthy blood pressure were enrolled in 2012 from 12 workplaces.

Workers were categorized into four groups according to annual household income: under 5 million, 5 to 7.9 million, 8 to 9.9 million, and 10 million or more Japanese yen every year. The analysts researched the relationship between income and developing high blood pressure over two years.

Contrasted with men in the lowest income category, men in the highest income group were about twice as liable to develop high blood pressure. Men in the 5 to 7.9 million and 8 to 9.9 million groups had a 50% higher risk of developing high blood pressure contrasted with men with the lowest incomes, even though the positive association didn’t arrive at statistical importance in the 8 to 9.9 million groups.

The findings were consistent regardless of age and were independent of baseline blood pressure, worksite, occupation, number of family members, and smoking.

In women, there was no significant link between income and blood pressure. However, women with higher household incomes tended to have a lower risk of developing high blood pressure.

Dr. Yanagiya said, “Some previous Japanese surveys have reported that higher household income is associated with more undesirable lifestyles in men, but not in women. Our study supports this: men, but not women, with higher household incomes were more likely to be obese and drink alcohol every day. Both behaviors are major risk factors for hypertension.”

“Men with high-paying daytime jobs are at particular risk of high blood pressure. This applies to men of all ages, who can greatly decrease their chance of a heart attack or stroke by improving their health behaviors.”

Dr. Yusuke Yoshikawa, the public relations coordinator for JCS 2020, said“Hypertension is one of the most important risk factors of cardiovascular disease in Japan because the average daily salt intake in Japan (approx. 10 g/day) is much higher than desired. As the current guidelines2 strongly recommend a healthy lifestyle to control high blood pressure, this study suggests a potential key to successful intervention for those who are at risk of heart disease and stroke.”

Professor Michel Komajda, a Past President of the ESC and course director of the ESC program at JCS 2020, said: “The ESC is delighted to be part of JCS 2020 in Kyoto. We value our special partnership with JCS and the high quality of Japanese research. Japan is among the top submitters of abstracts to ESC Congress.”

Journal Reference:
  1. Bryan Williams et al. 2018 ESC/ESH Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension: The Task Force for the management of arterial hypertension of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Society of Hypertension (ESH). DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehy339

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