Living in a community where there is minimal access to nutritious foods – often called a “food desert” – may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or early death for people living with peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022.

The meeting, held in person in Chicago and virtually, Nov. 5-7, 2022, is a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science.

Researchers reviewed data from 2015 to 2021 for people with PAD who had been treated in the Saint Luke’s Health System and compared treatments and outcomes of people living in a food desert to those living in a community with access to healthy and affordable foods. Food access was determined by criteria from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Access Research Atlas.

“While guideline-directed care for PAD reduces complications, the influence of social determinants of health like living in a food desert on receiving optimal care has not been previously explored,” said lead study author Rayan S. El-Zein, DO, a researcher at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute at the University of Missouri-Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri.

Read the results of the review in full American Heart Association article: Food Insecurity Linked to Increased Risks for People With Peripheral Artery Disease

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