Where the Economy Tanks, Heart Attack Deaths Rise

Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

COMMENTARY | The diverging economic fortunes of different parts of the country in the period after the 2008-2009 recession is linked to differing death rates from heart disease and stroke among middle-aged Americans, researchers report.

As the federal government debates the financial stimulus needed to address the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the last recession offers an important reminder of the long-term health effects of a slow and uneven recovery.

As large parts of the US—particularly rural areas—failed to fully recover economically following the Great Recession, they experienced markedly different health fortunes from areas that experienced a robust recovery.

If the pandemic exacerbates these economic trends, the US may be left with an even greater disparity in the health and well-being of Americans living in different parts of the country.

The decade following the Great Recession saw the average life expectancy of Americans decline for the first time since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. Studies have noted the rise in so-called “deaths of despair,” or deaths from substance abuse and suicide, particularly among the middle-aged white population during this period. The decline in deaths from heart disease, one of the major health advancements of the second half of the 20th century, has also slowed down, and may now be rising again.

After examining nearly all deaths for middle-aged adults from 2010 to 2017, death rates from heart disease and stroke continued to decline in areas of the country that prospered economically, but remained flat where the economy faltered.

In 2010, counties that had the greatest increase in economic prosperity over this period had, on average, 14 fewer deaths from heart disease for every 100,000 middle-aged residents compared to counties that had the greatest decrease in prosperity.

By 2017, this gap had increased to 21 deaths for every 100,000 middle-aged adults. The more an area prospered economically, the greater the decline in death rates from heart disease.

These deaths were not confined to the so-called American “stroke belt,” a swath of southern states with the highest levels of stroke and heart disease in the US. Instead, the counties that experienced worsening heart disease deaths predominantly were in rural areas throughout the US.

Rural communities have had a slow, yet steady, economic decline for decades and many have not recovered from the Great Recession. On top of issues such as closing rural hospitals, the ongoing pandemic, particularly in its later stages, has also disproportionately impacted rural areas. Although the economic disruptions brought on by the pandemic may be unique and could be followed by a robust economic recovery with the availability of vaccines and improved treatments, there is already evidence that the economic brunt is being disproportionately felt by people who were already on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.

How should policymakers respond to these trends?

Given the connection between economic prosperity and health, policies that aim to ensure the financial stability of people and their communities may translate into improved health outcomes for years to come.

In a prior study, the researchers found that expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of people dying from heart disease and related disorders. Several other studies have also shown how Medicaid expansion led to improvements in different health outcomes. However, 12 states, including Texas and Florida, have yet to expand Medicaid. Other researchers have found that more generous unemployment benefits may lessen the impact of job losses on health.

The new study demonstrates some of the important health consequences of an uneven economic recovery. If the economic fallout from the pandemic is left unchecked, the disparities seen after the last recession will continue to grow and the health impacts will be felt for years to come.

The study appears in JAMA.

Source: University of Pennsylvania

This article was originally published in Futurity. It has been republished under the Attribution 4.0 International license.

NEXT STORY: Black Churches Fill a Unique Role in Combating Vaccine Fears

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.