Is living in Glasgow bad for your health?

The city's residents are more likely to suffer a heart attack than the rest of Scotland. Credit. Flickr.

By Jen McClure

Findings of a recent health survey of Scotland’s largest city found that Glaswegians are 1 and a half times more likely to have a heart-attack and suffer from anxiety, regardless of their lifestyle or social circumstances.

The so-called “Glasgow Effect”, stood out above all the other factors taken into consideration.  The latest survey, said: “There remained an unexplained Glasgow Effect in relation to prevalence of anxiety and doctor-diagnosed heart attack.”

Researchers say that further study into the issue is needed to fully investigate their recent discoveries.

The report analysed; socio-economic, behavioural, biological, relationship and social mobility before compiling their findings.  The report concluded: “People living in Greater Glasgow and Clyde still had a 92 per cent higher risk of anxiety compared to those living elsewhere.” It continued, ” For two important outcomes relating to both physical and mental health, no explanation can be derived for the excess risk of doctor-diagnosed heart attack or anxiety.”

Politicians and health bodies claim that there is no mystery to Glasgow’s health misery.  The city’s poverty and deprivation are at the root of the “effect” and that more has to done to help the most vulnerable members of society.

Consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Adrian Brady at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, commented: “Lifestyle is an important part of the issue, for example, smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet, but they are all being addressed.”  He added: ” Even allowing for cholesterol, higher blood pressure and smoking you can still see, for some reason, individuals in the West of Scotland are more prone to heart attacks than patients in the south of England with the same blood pressure and cholesterol level. Why that is the case, we are not sure.” He further commented about the city’s deprivation as a factor. ” If you measured deprivation, as a measure of a lack of social advantage, that in fact, goes some way to explain the differences in heart attack risk with Glasgow and the rest of the UK.  Why deprivation would do this, we don’t know, but deprivation is a very robust measure of cardiovascular risk.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said that health inequalities remained a “significant challenge in Scotland, with the poorest in our society dying earlier and experiencing higher rates of ill health.”  She added, ” This remains the case whether there is or is not a Glasgow Effect.” In response to health issues that need to be addressed she continued: ” Reducing health inequalities is not going to be done overnight.  It will take generations to tackle problems which have affected Scotland but poor health is not inevitable and we should not accept it.”