Think about “taking care of your heart” and you might eat salmon and do HIIT. This is not bad. But there is another factor that can be just as important: managing your financial health.
Even before Covid exploded, many Americans were surrounded by debt. Now, about two-thirds of us are financially unhealthy, meaning we’re struggling with basics like spending less than we do, paying bills on time, having enough savings, and dealing with debt, according to the U.S. Financial Health Report. : 2020 trends report. Millions of people are at risk of extreme financial hardship, on the verge of not being able to pay for housing, food, health care or medicines. In addition, monetary stress is especially toxic to black people, according to a recent finding from the Jackson Heart Study, an examination of more than 20 years of the reasons why heart disease is more common in African Americans.
Financial stress is right there on the list of things that can predispose a person to heart disease, along with factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar, according to Mario Sims , Ph.D., FAHA. director and principal investigator of the Jackson Heart Study. Money problems are pernicious because they cause chronic anxiety 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you have financial problems, such as having enough money to cover housing, or if your workplace will exist tomorrow or in five years, your body releases hormones and chemicals that end up causing your arteries to tighten and tighten. The problem: there is still a lot of blood in these arteries and now your heart has to work overtime to get where it needs to go. (Imagine the value of water from a fire hose trying to get through a garden hose.)
“Your heart is trying to pump against high blood pressure, which can cause it to strain as more work needs to be done,” says Ameen Person, MD, an Atlanta-based cardiologist. “Over months to years, it can start to weaken and not work as well.” This means heart attacks, angina and congestive heart failure, along with kidney damage and kidney failure caused by stress from the circulatory system. Even if your income is high, being overly financially obligated can put stress on your heart in the same way.
All of this is harmful enough to anyone trying to get past the minefield of recent years with solvency and common sense intact. But, as researchers in the Jackson Heart Study found, it is especially harmful to people who are black.
Financial stress is especially hard as it is systemic
Black men earn $ 98 for every dollar white men earn, according to a recent survey by data company PayScale. That means a disparity of $ 1,500 for an annual salary of $ 74,500 in the same job and with the same qualifications. Over a 40-year career, which represents an average annual salary growth, the difference is more than $ 100,000. And that if you have this type of job security. Black men also “tend to have much less wealth and money to fall for” if incomes start to dry up, says Derek M. Griffith, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt University Men’s Health Research Center. Grouping all the financial facts is that, like many Americans, many black men have been socialized to equate their manhood with their ability to contribute to the home. The result: constant worry about money and what it says about you, which can make your heart beat faster.
Beyond the dollar-to-dollar disparities, there are also other systemic factors affecting black men, says Jonathan Butler, Ph.D., a researcher at the Center for the Study of Adversity and Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco of the University of California. Labor discrimination and higher rates of job insecurity and wealth inequality can also contribute to financial stress that hurts the heart.
This leads us to depression. Money can’t buy happiness and all that, but financial insecurity (having an economic status or lower income) is one of the top three causes of depression in black men, according to research from the University of Michigan. (The other two are racism / discrimination and lack of coping strategies or a support system to help you fight stress.) While depression is hard on everyone’s heart, people who are black they are again more affected here. A different 18-year study from the University of Michigan found that for black adults over the age of 50 who show symptoms of depression, the risk of developing heart disease was nearly 30% higher than that of white adults in the same age group. who show depressive symptoms.
Managing the monetary and heart crisis
“Living in our society is stressful,” Griffith says. “Being black in our society is especially stressful. So if you know that just being in the body where you are is going to be stressful, you need to have a strategy on how to manage and how to do things to stay healthy. ”This strategy should have two axes: finding ways to deal with stress your heart out and try to relieve financial pressure the way you can.
Your heart first: Classic movements to reduce stress are really effective. Yes, meditation is great (these apps can help you), but so is exercise. Even walking fast for about 45 minutes a day has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 31 percent. If you have other ways to take advantage, like cleaning the yard, preparing meals, and working on your car, maximize them. People and the purpose you find in your church or other spiritual setting can also relieve stress, helping you make sense of it or take stock of the internal resources you have to deal with it, Griffith says.
Here’s what you can do to raise some of your financial concerns. You don’t have to do it alone, says Keith C. Ferdinand, MD, a professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine. Take a look at organizations like Free Group, a non-profit organization that offers free personal finance to people with historical services, or check out popular (free) debt reduction programs like Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball Method. Ramsey has indicated what he owes from minimum to highest, regardless of interest rate and that he pays as much as possible for his smallest debt and the minimum for others (this explains how a man used this method to settle debt ). Repeat until each is paid.
You can also reduce the costs of heart medications and other prescription drugs. Ask your pharmacist what your medication will be if you use insurance and what it will be if you do not. t. In some cases, paying in cash is actually cheaper. Coupons from sites like GoodRx and RxSaver can save you up to 85% (although you usually save less). You can even save on generic drugs if you shop; not all pharmacies charge the same amount. Several large stores like Target, Walmart, and Winn-Dixie have generic products that cost $ 4 for a 30-day supply and $ 10 for a 90-day supply, which may be less than what you’ll spend on a copayment.
We will not pretend that monetary stress is easy to erase. It doesn’t happen all of a sudden. But today you can take a step — even if it’s a walk through the block — to keep your hair from running through your heart.
This story originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of Men’s Health.
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