If you earn a salary on the lower end, your paycheck may put you at risk for high blood pressure, according to new research from UC Davis.
About one in three adults in the U.S. is living with hypertension, reports the CDC, which is a main contributor to heart disease and stroke. And while high blood pressure tends to be thought of as an ailment largely affecting older men, this study found those earning low wages—especially young people ages 25 to 44, and women—to be especially susceptible to a high blood pressure diagnosis.
Researchers analyzed data collected from 5,000-plus household heads and their spouses, ages 25 to 65, during the years 1999 to 2005, data that was originally compiled for the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which was a longitudinal, representative study that gathered data on family wages, employment, and health, including hypertension stats.
“Our outcome shows that women and younger employees working at the lowest pay scales should be screened regularly for hypertension,” said J. Paul Leigh, senior study author and professor of public health sciences at UC Davis, in a statement.
While the association between lower socioeconomic status and hypertension has long been known, the specific reasons why have not yet been pinpointed. This was the first study to focus on the potential link between low wages and hypertension.
“Wages are a part of the employment environment that easily can be changed,” said Leigh, in a statement. “Policymakers can raise the minimum wage, which tends to increase wages overall and could have significant public-health benefits.”
“That means that if there were 110 million persons employed in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 65 per year during the entire time-frame of the study—from 1999 until 2005—then a 10 percent increase in everyone’s wages would have resulted in 132,000 fewer cases of hypertension each year,” said Leigh.
One potential study limitation regarding the gender disparity was that hypertension was self-reported. “Other research has shown that women are more likely than men to report a health diagnosis,” said Leigh. “However, the longitudinal nature of the data used in our study helps mitigate that natural bias, and self-reports of health do typically correlate with clinical data.”
Additional research is needed, using different national data sets, to further investigate and outline the possible relationship between wages and hypertension.
Are You surprised by the potential link between wages and hypertension?