Wealth and Longevity

iStock_000062391332_MediumPeople who have greater economic resources live longer than those who don't, a study published in JAMA that Rick and I discuss on PodMed concludes. This conclusion is certainly rather sobering and is bolstered by a very large amount of data: "Income data for the US population were obtained from 1.4 billion deidentified tax records between 1999 and 2014. Mortality data were obtained from Social Security Administration death records. These data were used to estimate race- and ethnicity-adjusted life expectancy at 40 years of age by household income percentile, sex, and geographic area, and to evaluate factors associated with differences in life expectancy."  Wow.  Rick and I are both impressed and daunted by the shear size of this dataset. Watson, anyone?

The study essentially found that there is a more or less positive relationship between income and longevity, with those who make the most money living longest. This is a trend that is increasing over time, accounts for a greater disparity in the lifetimes of men than women, and varies quite a bit across the nation's geography.  Perhaps most interesting is the fact that access to healthcare did not seem to affect longevity.  The factors that were associated with shortened lifetime included smoking, sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary choices.  We agree that there is ripe fodder for policy change in these conclusions and suspect that's where this study will have the most impact.

Other topics this week include a long term look at the high end of normal BMI and cardiovascular mortality in NEJM, five star ratings of hospitals in JAMA Internal Medicine, and aspirin recommendations in Annals of Internal Medicine.  Until next week, y'all live well.

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