Student debt can jeopardize your cardiovascular health in early middle age
New research shows that adults who don’t pay off college debt or take on new educational debt during their early adulthood to their early 40s have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
The findings of the research were published in the journal ‘American Journal of Preventive Medicine’.
The individuals who repaid their student debt had better or equivalent health than individuals who never faced student debt, suggesting that relieving the burden of student debt could improve population health.
“As the cost of college has increased, students and their families have taken on more debt to get to and stay in college. Consequently, student debt is a massive financial burden to so many in the United States, and yet we know little about the potential long-term health consequences of this debt.”
“Previous research showed that, in the short term, student debt burdens were associated with self-reported health and mental health, so we were interested in understanding whether student debt was associated with cardiovascular illness among adults in early mid-life,” explained lead investigator Adam M. Lippert, PhD, Department of Sociology, University of Colorado Denver.
The study utilized data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), a panel study of 20,745 adolescents in Grades 7 to 12 first interviewed during the 1994-1995 school year. Four subsequent waves of data were collected, including Wave 3, when the respondents were aged 18-26 and Wave 5 when respondents were aged 22-44. Wave 5 respondents were invited to in-home medical exams.
Researchers assessed biological measures of cardiovascular health of 4,193 qualifying respondents using the 30-year Framingham cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk score, which considers sex, age, blood pressure, antihypertensive treatment, smoking status, diabetes diagnosis, and body mass index to measure the likelihood of a cardiovascular illness over the next 30 years of life. They also looked at levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biomarker of chronic or systemic inflammation.