Residing in a Food Desert and Adverse Cardiovascular Events in US Veterans With Established Cardiovascular Disease

Mackenzie Lloyd, Mary Ellen Amos, Sherry Milfred-Laforest, Issam Kamel Motairek, Kristina Pascuzzi, Fanny Petermann-Rocha, Yakov Elgudin, Khurram Nasir, Darcy Freedman, Sadeer Al-Kindi, Jill Pell, Salil Vasudeo Deo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Residents living in a “food desert” are known to be at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, national-level data regarding the influence of residing in a food desert in patients with established CVD is lacking. Data from veterans with established atherosclerotic CVD who received outpatient care in the Veterans Health Administration system between January 2016 and December 2021 were obtained, with follow-up information collected until May 2022 (median follow-up: 4.3 years). A food desert was defined using the United States Department of Agriculture criteria, and census tract data were used to identify Veterans in these areas. All-cause mortality and the occurrence of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACEs; a composite of myocardial infarction/stroke/heart failure/all-cause mortality) were evaluated as the co-primary end points. The relative risk for MACE in food desert areas was evaluated by fitting multivariable Cox models adjusted for age, gender, race, ethnicity, and median household income, with food desert status as the primary exposure. Of the 1,640,346 patients (mean age 72 years, women 2.7%, White 77.7%, Hispanic 3.4%), 25,7814 (15.7%) belonged to the food desert group. Patients residing in food deserts were younger; more likely to be Black (22% vs 13%)or Hispanic (4% vs 3.5%); and had a higher prevalence of diabetes mellitus (52.7% vs 49.8%), chronic kidney disease (31.8% vs 30.4%,) and heart failure (25.6% vs 23.8%). Adjusted for covariates, food desert patients had a higher risk of MACE (hazard ratio 1.040 [1.033 to 1.047]; p <0.001) and all-cause mortality (hazard ratio 1.032 [1.024 to 1.039]; p <0.001). In conclusion, we observed that a large proportion of US veterans with established atherosclerotic CVD reside in food desert census tracts. Adjusting for age, gender, race, and ethnicity, residing in food deserts was associated with a higher risk of adverse cardiac events and all-cause mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-76
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023


  • United States/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Female
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases/epidemiology
  • Veterans
  • Ethnicity
  • Atherosclerosis/complications
  • Heart Failure/epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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