Unpaid student debt can cause you heart problems

May 5, 2022 — The stress and anxiety of living with significant student debt is nothing new. As many as 43 million Americans face the twin challenges of trying to prosper while also paying back federal college loans.

A new study may add another concern: For the first time, researchers have linked unpaid student debt to a greater risk of heart disease in middle age.

Responses from people with student loans came down to “great, one more thing to worry about.”

“What else can we pile on debtors’ shoulders?” asked Karen Lee, a Massachusetts woman who moderates the ForgiveStudentLoanDebt.com group on Facebook.

An example of this is Pam Putnam-Colasanti, a 63-year-old woman who received her master’s degree from Brightwood College in Fort Lauderdale in 2009. She noted in the Facebook group that she has cardiovascular disease and “has been in crippling debt for the past 18 years.”

The big picture isn’t much clearer here.

“Our findings reveal some hidden costs — health costs, in this case — of not responding to the country’s debt crisis,” said study researcher Adam Lippert, PhD, of the University of Colorado.

Moving people into a cardiovascular disease future “is hardly sound fiscal policy,” says Lippert.

Adjustable risk

On the plus side, student debt is a potentially modifiable risk factor. If federal officials act to ease the burden of student debt, many will see improved health and at the very least the delay in the onset of chronic conditions, Lippert says.

President Joe Biden is reportedly getting close to fulfilling his promise to ease the burden of student debt for many Americans. His proposals range from reducing at least $10,000 to amounts less than $50,000 from student loan debt, possibly tied to income levels.

Some studies have already shown that other types of debt can lead to heart problems, including one that looked at the link between credit card debt and ill health. The current study was published online May 3 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Stress is linked to higher levels of inflammation. Chronic inflammation was higher for people in the study with ongoing student debt compared to others who managed to pay off their debt or who had never taken out student loans.

People in debt are also at greater risk for other heart failures.

More than half are at fault

Well over a third of the nearly 4,200 study participants had no student debt. Twelve percent paid off their loans, 28% took out student debt and 24% remained in constant debt.

Cardiovascular risk scores were higher for people who were consistently in debt or took on new debt compared to people who were never in debt.

Those who had student loans and paid them off had lower cardiovascular risks than those who were never in debt.

Future Implications

Another implication of the research is that student debt generally diminishes the health and economic benefits of many people with 4-year college experience.

Student debt reported at the household level is a potential limitation of the study, as the debt of family members could have contributed to the results. However, the researchers repeated the evaluation in people without adult children, and the results were similar.

Another limitation was measuring risk at a single time point. Future studies should look at multiple measures of cardiovascular risk and inflammation levels over time, the researchers suggest.

This post Unpaid student debt can cause you heart problems

was original published at “https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20220506/unpaid-student-debt-could-give-you-heart-trouble?src=RSS_PUBLIC”