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The Great Recession impacted public health and wellbeing

The Great Recession, which began in 2007 and lasted until 2010, will be remembered as a period of great economic turmoil for the United States. It was the longest-running recession since World War II, with many losing their jobs, homes, savings.

Now, a decade after the Recession first began, researchers are examining its effects beyond the financial sector and how it impacted the health and well-being of the American people.

While economists can show the full extent of how the stock market was affected by the mortgage crisis that peaked during the Great Recession, less is known about the physical and mental toll that the Recession took on Americans.

Researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) Health Sciences wanted to thoroughly investigate the impacts the Recession had on cardiovascular health and stress.

The results, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the Recession adversely affected heart health and increased blood pressure and glucose levels among older homeowners and younger people in the workforce.

According to the researchers, previous studies that measured the impacts the Recession had on health were inconsistent in their results, and did not use well-known health biomarkers to measure health over a period spanning before and after the Recession.

For their research, the UCLA team collected data from 4,600 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of  Atherosclerosis (MESA) from 2000 to 2012.

The researchers measured blood pressure and glucose levels at different periods before, during, and after the Recession.

In order to fairly compare any changes in cardiovascular health, the researchers first projected normal changes in blood pressure and glucose levels without the added strain of the Recession in the age range of the participants from 45 to 84.

After analyzing and comparing the data to the projected non-Recession outcomes, the results showed that both blood pressure and glucose levels rose during the Recession.

People in the workforce and retired homeowners were particularly susceptible to an increased risk of cardiovascular issues.

The researchers suspect that the stress of possibly losing jobs or houses would have greatly affected both physical and mental health for the participants.

This new study shows that economic crises like the Great Recession can have an impact on physical and mental health.

The researchers hope the results will urge policymakers and healthcare providers to better prepare for periods of economic downturn in the future.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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