It may seem unlikely that living near a foreclosed property can increase your risks for high blood pressure but a new study finds evidence that living near a house that's caught in legal problems may actually have a negative effect in your health.
For the new study published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation on May 12, researchers examined the data of over 1,740 individuals living in Massachusetts from 1987 and 2008 to measure the effects of living near a foreclosed property.
The researchers found that each foreclosed real estate property within 100 meters of the participants' home is linked with a rise of 1.71 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure. Blood pressure of participants whose homes were beyond the 100-meter range, on the other hand, did not appear to have been affected.
The researchers also observed that foreclosed homes that were quickly purchased did not seem to an effect on blood pressure. Homes that were seized by the banks and remained vacant, however, were associated with elevated blood pressure.
Study author Mariana Arcaya from the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, said that stress from living beside a vacant home can get people to overeat and drink alcohol, which can increase their risks for high blood pressure. Arcaya also said that people may not find walking past an empty house appealing and this affects the physical activities that they engage in such as running and walking around the neighborhood.
Martha Daviglus, from the University Of Illinois College Of Medicine, explained that the link between foreclosures and elevated blood pressure may be due to fears of failure. "It's very logical that other people could think nobody's safe, which causes more stress and could explain the blood pressure increase," she told Health Day. Daviglus, however, said that although the study found an association between foreclosures and blood pressure, it does not prove a causal relationship.
Getting older, smoking, stress, drinking alcohol and not engaging in physical activities can increase a person's risks for hypertension and while the rise in blood pressure among participants living near foreclosed properties was not significant enough to pose health risks, the findings of the study suggest that the housing crisis has an impact on health.