Threats to Security and the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death: The Case of Homicides in Mexico

Eileen H. Lee, University of California, Irvine
Tim-Allen Bruckner, University of California, Irvine

Ischemic heart disease (IHD) ranks as the leading cause of death worldwide. Whereas much attention focuses on eating, smoking and sedentary lifestyle as risk factors, less research examines the role of acute, ambient stressors. We hypothesize that ecological threats to security, such as the sudden rise in homicides in Mexico in the last decade, may plausibly elevate the risk of both transient ischemic events and myocardial infarctions, and correspond with increased heart disease deaths. We test this hypothesis by analyzing the whether monthly increases in ischemic heart disease deaths from 2000 to 2012 vary positively with monthly increases in homicides in Mexico. Time-series analyses find that a 1 standard deviation increase in the logged monthly count of homicides increases the odds of IHD death by eight percent (p<.001). Results remain robust to control for strong temporal patterning in IHD deaths, the unemployment rate, and other rival explanations.

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Presented in Session 97: Psychosocial Factors and Health