Socioeconomic position is associated with N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) : Results of the population-based Heinz Nixdorf Recall study

Objectives: N-Terminal pro Brain Natriuretic Peptide (NT-proBNP) is a diagnostic marker for heart failure and a prognostic factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The aim of this study was to examine the association of socioeconomic position (SEP) with NT-proBNP while assessing sex-differences and the impact of CVD risk factors and prevalent CVD on the association.

Methods: Baseline data of 4598 participants aged 45-75 years of the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study were used. Income and education were used as SEP indicators. Age- and sex-adjusted linear regression models were fitted to calculate effect size estimates and 95% confidence intervals (95%-CIs) for the total effect of SEP indicators on NT-proBNP, while potential mediation was assessed by additionally accounting for traditional CVD risk factors (i.e., systolic blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, diabetes, anti-hypertensive medication, lipid-lowering medication, BMI, current smoking). Education and income were included separately in the models.

Results: With an age- and sex-adjusted average change in NT-proBNP of -6.47% (95%-CI: -9.91; -2.91) per 1000€, the association between income and NT-proBNP was more pronounced compared to using education as a SEP indicator (-0.80% [95%-CI: -1.92; 0.32] per year of education). Sex-stratified results indicated stronger associations in men (-8.43% [95%-CI: -13.21; -3.38] per 1000€; -1.63% [95%-CI: -3.23; -0.001] per year of education) compared to women (-5.10% [95%-CI: -9.82; -0.01] per 1000€; -1.04% [95%-CI: -2.59; 0.50] per year of education). After adjusting for CVD risk factors some of the observed effect size estimates were attenuated, while the overall association between SEP indicators and NT-proBNP was still indicated. The exclusion of participants with prevalent coronary heart disease or stroke did not lead to a substantial change in the observed associations.

Conclusions: In the present study associations of education and income with NT-proBNP were observed in a population-based study sample. Only parts of the association were explained by traditional CVD risk factors, while there were substantial sex-differences in the strength of the observed association. Overt coronary heart disease or stroke did not seem to trigger the associations.


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