As of 2016, the leading cause of death was heart disease. 635,360 people died from heart disease in 2016 (CDC, 2017). People die from heart disease due to many circumstances, but there are two health disparities that really stand out. Those are socio-economic status and age. Socio-economic status and age both play a huge role when it comes to the type of care that people receive. A person’s socio-economic status plays a role in the type of health care someone due to the way that we, as humans, have come to judge one another.
We see someone that is poor, not very educated, or does not have a good job and we think poorly of them. This poor judgement can then lead into the quality of care they receive. We make ourselves believe that someone that is richer, highly educated, and has a good career should receive better care and attention when really everyone should receive equal care. Age is also a huge factor when it comes to health care. Two people could both be having the same issue with a heart disease, but the person who is younger will get taken better care of just due to their age and the likelihood that they will live longer.
“Socioeconomic status (SES) is usually measured by determining education, income, occupation, or a composite of these dimensions” (Winkleby, 1992). The two Social Determinants of Health that relate to socio-economic status are social gradient and early life. Social gradient means that the poorest people in the world, have the worst health (WHO, 2013). Someone who is born in a lower income area is less likely to receive care then someone who is from a richer area. This is true when it comes to a person’s career also.
Someone who is ranked higher in a business will end up receiving better care then someone with a lower position. “People further down the social ladder usually run at least twice the risk of serious illness and premature death as those near the top…middle-class office workers, lower ranking staff suffer much more disease and earlier death than higher ranking staff” (Wilkinson, Marmot, 2003). Although some people who grow up in a poorer society end up doing well for themselves when they’re older, others aren’t so lucky. The longer time people live in these poor conditions, the more likely they are for poor health. “the longer people live in stressful economic and social circumstances, the greater the physiological wear and tear they suffer, and the less likely they are to enjoy a healthy old age” (Wilkinson, Marmot, 2003).
The other Social Determinant of Health that relates to socio-economic status is early life. When a person is not given the right amount of education and support when they are in the beginning of their life, their likelihood of poor physical health later in life increases. “Slow or retarded physical growth in infancy is associated with reduced cardiovascular, respiratory, pancreatic, and kidney development and function, which increase the risk of illness in adulthood” (Wilkinson, Mamot, 2003). Every child should get a good education and have good emotional support when they are young and developing so they do not have to go through such health difficulties when they are older.