Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How Is Bad Credit Linked To Heart Attack?

Many risk factors that might cause a person to get a heart attack include age, lack of physical activity, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stress, and family history of heart attack. But a recent study also link one’s credit score to getting a heart attack.

Researchers from Duke University, King’s College London and University of Otago revealed in their paper, which was published online November 17, 2014 in ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA’, that low credit scores was somehow associated with the odds of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

In the study, the researchers analyzed the health and financial records of 1,037 middle-aged participants in a longitudinal study (in New Zealand) that began when the participants were kids. They also looked at participants' education up to the age of 38, their IQ test results and various personality assessments. The participants’ credit scores were compared to their Framingham cardiovascular risk score.

Framingham score analyzes a number of health factors, including cholesterol and blood pressure, in order to assess a person’s likelihood of getting a cardiovascular event in the future, and assigns a “heart age” to this patient. Each 100-point increase in score indicates a heart that is 13 months younger.

Factors like a recent economic shock or household income did not explain the correlation. However, human capital factors such as self-control, cognitive ability and educational attainment appeared to explain the connection between “successful aging” and good credit scores.

The study did not really find that low credit scores could cause cardiovascular disease that includes heart disease and stroke. It, however, showed that individuals who avoid risky and impulsive decisions, who plan and manage their finances, and who generally organize their lives are more likely to achieve better job performance, safer driving, and better health. The same skills that are related to having a good credit score are related to heart health, too.

Meanwhile, the researchers also looked at decades-old personality assessments that were conducted when the participants were kids and found that participants who had lower levels of self-control as 10-year-olds also tended to have lower credit scores as adults. They were also more likely to be in poorer health. In other words, the habits and attributes that participants developed as kids might have influenced the personal and financial choices they made later on.

According to the researchers, their results are widely applicable though their research examined New Zealanders. As a matter of fact, New Zealand was a better place to run the study because it offers universal healthcare to its citizens. A similar study in the United States would be clouded by the likelihood that unhealthy individuals could have low credit scores due to high medical bills.

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