Heart failure patients living in low socioeconomic neighborhoods are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital than those in more affluent neighborhoods, according to a new study in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality & Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association.

The study is the first to show the effect of neighborhood socioeconomic status on heart failure patients’ outcome persists even after adjusting for individual-level health risks and socioeconomic factors.

Researchers considered information from 1,557 patients in the study – about a third each from low, middle and high socioeconomic status neighborhoods. Neighborhood levels were based on household income, level of education, health literacy, burden of healthcare costs and health insurance status.

Over a six-month period, 745 patients had at least one readmission; 272 of those were from low SES neighborhoods, 242 from medium and 231 from high SES neighborhoods. People in low SES neighborhoods were more likely than those in high SES neighborhoods to be readmitted (51.9 percent vs. 44.7 percent.)

These findings support previous research showing the neighborhood in which you live can affect your risks and outcome of heart disease – including a recent study linking high blood pressure to neighborhood foreclosures.

Neighborhood factors that can impact these outcomes may include the availability of healthcare resources, nutritious food options, and outlets for physical activity, along with social and community support. Researchers said identifying and addressing these issues can be as important as individual patient risks.