Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Bills in the Mail Press Health to Fail; Survey Results Say Aches and Pains Are Linked to Those Dealing with Debt

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

More Bills in the Mail Press Health to Fail; Survey Results Say Aches and Pains Are Linked to Those Dealing with Debt

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM AASEN

Some people see turbulent economic times as part of a vicious cycle.

Debt leads to stress. Stress leads to medical problems. Medical problems lead to more debt.

A recent Associated Press-AOL Health poll said people with large amounts of debt-related stress feel pain in more than their wallets. They also have higher instances of backaches, migraines, ulcers and heart attacks.

First Coast doctors and debt managers said they're not surprised.

Lyndon Box, a cardiologist at Shands Jacksonville, said there are plenty of studies on how different forms of stress can relate to heart problems and how short-term financial stress has been linked to heart attacks during those times of hardship.

Edward Driscoll, 38, of Braintree, Mass., told The Associated Press that $10,000 of his debt contributed to his ulcers and his wife's panic attacks.

"Just worrying, worrying, worrying, you know, where the next payment is going to come from," he told the wire service.

According to the poll, there's a 14 percent increase in people with chronic stress from debt compared with 2004; about 27 percent of those with debt stress had ulcers, compared with 8 percent to those with low levels of debt stress. Forty-four percent had migraines, compared with 15 percent with low debt. Six percent reported heart attacks -- double the rate of those with low debt.

Researchers said adrenaline released during stressful times can wreak physical havoc on the body.

When bills mount, Box said, it's also common for many patients to not fill medical prescriptions or forgo check-ups that can help prevent many of these medical problems.

FROM SOME, A VICIOUS CYCLE

Parvez Ahmed, assistant professor of finance at the University of North Florida, said medical bills can also make it difficult to dig oneself out of debt.

"It's kind of a spiral," he said. "Medical bills are one of the most common ways to accumulate debt. …

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