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Rich Survive More Heart Attacks

Social standing affects many illnesses

Although the Bible says that the poor shall be rewarded in the kingdom of heaven, here on earth, public health experts know that poverty and low social standing are rewarded with illness and an early grave -- even among people who have access to health care.

People living in Scotland, for example, have a 20 percent higher risk of dying within a month of a heart attack if they come from the poorest level of the population. Although Britons all have access to national health care, the most socially deprived people suffer more from heart disease, Ananova reports.

A 10-year study found the most profound differences in younger people. "The most deprived members of society under 65 have twice the risk of a first myocardial infarction and death before reaching [the] hospital," says John McMurray, the lead researcher at the University of Glasgow.

In addition to heart disease, low social status also increases the risk of diabetes, mental illness and certain cancers. Although bad health habits like smoking and alcohol abuse are more common among the poor, scientists can't fully explain the connection between status and health.

The Australian paper The Age describes studies of civil-service workers showing that the healthiest people were those in the top echelons, while their deputies were just a little less healthy despite being well paid.

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