Do heart attack patients from poor neighbourhoods in Vienna die quicker?

29 AUG 2022

Diseases of the cardiovascular system are the most frequent cause of death in Austria. It is thus crucial to understand how socio-economic differences are related to survival after heart attacks, as this is important information to the public and policy makers who want to tackle this major health burden.

While socio-economic environment has been linked to a variety of health and survival outcomes, its role for heart attacks is less clear. Researchers from the Wittgenstein Centre, together with cardiologists from the Medical University of Vienna, have thus investigated if heart attack patients from poor Viennese municipality districts die quicker than those from rich districts, thereby considering population-level and neighbourhood characteristics like the supply of health-related services.

Using an exclusive data set from the city’s main tertiary care hospital, which is representative for the Viennese population, the team did not find differences in survival of STEMI (ST-segment elevation myocardial infarctions) patients across Viennese districts. Their data suggests, however, that individuals from poorer districts have STEMIs earlier in life, which warrants further investigation.

Also, female STEMI patients have better survival outcomes, but only for deaths related to coronary artery disease and other causes of deaths, and not for deaths from the more acute coronary syndrome, which suggests important differences in diagnoses and treatment between women and men that need improving.


Spitzer S, di Lego V, Kuhn M, et al. Socioeconomic environment and survival in patients after ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI): a longitudinal study for the City of Vienna. BMJ Open 2022;12:e058698. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-058698

The Wittgenstein Centre aspires to be a world leader in the advancement of demographic methods and their application to the analysis of human capital and population dynamics. In assessing the effects of these forces on long-term human well-being, we combine scientific excellence in a multidisciplinary context with relevance to a global audience. It is a collaboration among the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Vienna.