A study that has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine gives companies in the accounts receivable management industry that collect on student loan debt another arrow in their quiver to convince individuals to pay off their debts — if you don’t do it, you have a higher risk of being diagnosed with heart disease later in life.
The heart healthy disparity actually remained even when researchers adjusted for socioeconomic factors and other source of debt outside of student loans, according to a published report. Even race or ethnicity had no impact on the findings.
Researchers studied more than 20,000 individuals, looking at them first between grades seven and 12, and then again between the ages of 22 and 44. Individuals who took on debt or had debt had higher cardiovascular disease risk scores than those who had never been in debt or had paid it off.
Noting that there are 43 million individuals in the United States who are carrying some amount of student loan debt, the report notes that calls for the federal government to forgive some or all of outstanding student loan debt may help this growing health crisis.
Heart health problems are the most severe for those with higher amounts of debt, according to the study. One possible reason is that individuals with higher amounts of student loans have less money to spend on food and often forego healthy food choices, which can be more expensive.
“Unless something is done to reduce the costs of going to college and forgive outstanding debts, the health consequences of climbing student loan debt are likely to grow,” said Adam Lippert, the study’s lead investigator and an assistant sociology professor at the University of Colorado Denver.