A high debt-to-asset ratio was associated with high perceived stress (12 percent higher than average), depression (13 percent higher) and worse self-reported general health. Those with high debt had a 1.3 percent increase in diastolic blood pressure compared with the average which is a bigger deal than it might sound. A two-point increase in diastolic blood pressure, for example, is associated with a 17 percent higher risk of hypertension and a 15 percent higher risk of stroke, the study says. Perceived stress, depression and general health were gauged by questioning participants, so those values are based on self-reported information.
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Home blood pressure monitoring may improve control
“We need to be aware of this association and understand it better. Our study is just a first peek at how debt may impact physical health.” The study, published in the journal Social Science and Medicine , is based on data from 8,400 people ages 24 to 32. The study participants’ self-reported depression and stress levels, as well as objective blood pressure levels, were taken. Researchers also analyzed their level of debt by asking them how much they owed (ranging from “less than $1,000” to “$250,000 or more), as well as the question: “Suppose you and others in your household were to sell all of your major possessions (including your home), turn all of your investments and other assets into cash, and pay off all of your debts. Would you have something left over, break even or be in debt?” Researchers found that the people in the study with higher debt had a 1.3 percent increase, compared with the average, in diastolic blood pressure. While this percentage may seem small, the researchers noted that a diastolic blood pressure increase of just two points raises stroke risk by 15 percent.
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Debt Linked With High Blood Pressure, Poor Health Among Young Adults: Study
They also reported feeling more confident about being able to take care of themselves and made changes such as adding less salt to their food. “It’s kind of creating a feedback loop where the patient is measuring their blood pressure and forwarding that information to the healthcare team, and the healthcare team is able to interpret that information and feed back information to the patient about how they can achieve better blood pressure control,” Margolis told Reuters Health. The remaining questions, Uhlig said, are if blood pressure reductions will be maintained years down the line, and if people who had the intervention will go on to develop fewer heart conditions. The intervention would cost about $1,350 per patient to implement outside of a study, the researchers calculated. Margolis said they are planning to continue to follow the patients in this study and perform a more formal cost effectiveness analysis after a few years.
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