Financial strain is a prevalent form of psychosocial stress in the United States; however, information about the relationship between financial strain and cardiovascular health remains sparse, particularly in older women.
Methods: The cross-sectional association between financial strain and ideal cardiovascular health were examined in the Women's Health Study follow-up cohort (N = 22,048; mean age = 72± 6.0 years).Six self-reported measures of financial strain were summed together to create a financial strain index and categorized into 4 groups: No financial strain, 1 stressor, 2 stressors, and 3+ stressors. Ideal cardiovascular health was based on the American Heart Association strategic 2020 goals metric, including tobacco use, body mass index, physical activity, diet, blood pressure, total cholesterol and diabetes mellitus. Cardiovascular health was examined as continuous and a categorical outcome (ideal, intermediate, and poor). Statistical analyses adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, education and income.
Results: At least one indicator of financial strain was reported by 16% of participants. Number of financial stressors was associated with lower ideal cardiovascular health, and this association persisted after adjustment for potential confounders (1 financial stressor (FS): B = -0.10, 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) = -0.13, -0.07; 2 FS: B = -0.20, 95% CI = -0.26, -0.15; 3+ FS: B = -0.44, 95% CI = -0.50, -0.38).
Conclusion: Financial strain was associated with lower ideal cardiovascular health in middle aged and older female health professional women. The results of this study have implications for the potential cardiovascular health benefit of financial protections for older individuals.
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