Low Wages, High Blood Pressure

Your job could raise your risk of hypertension. 

Posted: 10/09/2013 01:22 PM EDT
Low Wages, High Blood Pressure

Low-wage earners, especially women and young people, are at the highest risk of developing hypertension, according to a recent study from UC Davis.

“We were surprised that low wages were such a strong risk factor for two populations not typically associated with hypertension, which is more often linked with being older and male,” says J. Paul Leigh, senior author of the study and professor of public health sciences at UC Davis. “Our outcome shows women and younger employees working at the lowest pay scales should be screened regularly for hypertension as well.”

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs when the force of circulating blood against artery walls is too high. The disease affects approximately 1 in 3 American adults and costs more than $90 billion each year in health-care services, medications and missed work days. It also is a major contributor to heart disease and stroke, both of which are leading causes of death and disability. More than 40 percent of African Americans have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. We are also more likely to develop a more severe form of the disease and get it at an earlier age than our white counterparts. The medical community believes high rates of diabetes and obesity put African Americans at greater risk for hypertension. Researchers have also found that there may be a gene that makes African Americans much more salt sensitive. In people who have this gene, as little as one extra gram (half a teaspoon) of salt could raise blood pressure

The UC Davis study looked at the work and health records from more than 5,000 households, focusing on working adults between the ages of 25 and 65 with an income of $2.78 to $77 an hour.

Read more about how low income jobs can affect your heart health at BlackHealthMatters.Com.

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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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