Managing Debt

Can Debt Raise Your Blood Pressure?

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High debt can mean high blood pressure, a new study from Northwestern University says — at least for young adults.

Researchers used data on 8,400 young adults, ages 24-32, to examine associations between debt and health. Here’s what it found:

  • 20 percent of participants said they would still be in debt even if they liquidated all assets.
  • 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. That means they’re a little fuzzy and prone to error. Blood pressure, though, was actually measured — so the scariest part of this study is likely the most accurate, even if it only included young adults.

We’ve written before that being debt-free is a huge quality-of-life benefit, on top of the financial ones. Now we know there are physical benefits too.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

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