One expert wasn't surprised by the findings. Poorer people have fewer ways to combat stress, said Glyn Lewis, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Bristol in England.
"For example, if your car breaks down, then a wealthier person could afford to rent a new car or get their old one mended quickly or will have insurance for this," Lewis said. "It is much less stressful if you have the money to seek out alternatives."
The study authors suggest that wealthier people may have better ways to manage or contain their distress and more people around them who can help. Also, previous research has shown that the cardiovascular systems of richer people recover faster from acute stress, which might contribute less to long-term cardiovascular damage, the authors noted.
However, the study didn't document how stress levels changed over time, and the authors acknowledge that that is a limitation of their study.
Still, Lazzarino said the findings might help researchers refine tools for stress measurement. "Since we know that stress is very bad for your health, one could argue that every person on the planet should do tests to measure his/her own stress and that family doctors should screen all patients they have for stress," he said.
"However, this strategy may not be cost-effective," he added. "We say that if you specifically target low-income people, stress screening may be very useful and cost-effective."
For more about health and stress, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Antonio Ivan Lazzarino, M.D., clinical research associate, department of epidemiology and public health, University College London, England; G
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