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Low Wages Linked to Raised Risk for High Blood Pressure
Date:1/7/2013

MONDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The lowest paid workers are at greater risk for high blood pressure than those taking home bigger paychecks, a new study suggests.

This is particularly true for women and those between 25 and 44 years old, noted the researchers from University of California, Davis (UC Davis). The findings could help reduce the personal and financial costs of high blood pressure, or hypertension, which is a major health problem, the study authors pointed out in a university news release.

"We were surprised that low wages were such a strong risk factor for two populations not typically associated with hypertension, which is more often linked with being older and male," study senior author J. Paul Leigh, a professor of public health sciences at UC Davis, said in the news release. "Our outcome shows that women and younger employees working at the lowest pay scales should be screened regularly for hypertension as well."

Using a national study of families in the United States, which included information on wages, jobs and health, the researchers compiled information on over 5,600 household heads and their spouses every two years from 1999 to 2005. All of the participants, who ranged from 25 to 65 years of age, were employed. The investigators also excluded anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure during the first year of each two-year interval.

The study found that the workers' wages (annual income divided by work hours) ranged from roughly $2.38 to $77 per hour in 1999 dollars. During the study, the participants also reported whether or not their doctor diagnosed them with high blood pressure.

Based on a statistical analysis, the researchers found that doubling a person's wage was associated with a 16 percent drop in their risk for hypertension. Doubling a worker's wage also reduced the risk for hypertension by 1.2 percent over two years and 0.6 percent for one year.

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