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Recession Is Bad for Health

Americans Are Taking Grave Chances With Their Health Because of Recession and Money Fears

Health Care and the Recession: Doctor Visits Down continued...

AAFP President Ted Epperly, MD, tells WebMD that angst has become pervasive “and so many people are trying to save,” which can be dangerous. “We’ve seen bad outcomes. I have personal knowledge of a 45-year-old male with underlying heart disease that he knew about [who] was also diabetic. Because he lost his health insurance when he lost his job, he stopped taking his diabetes medicine, it got out of control, he had a [heart attack] and he died.

“We know of another gentleman with bipolar disease who stopped taking his antipsychotic to save money. He became manic, lost his job, his house, and then his family.”

Stress Can Make You Sicker

“Stress has a direct impact on the immune system, and this can make people sicker,” he tells WebMD. “Patients need to exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week, whether they can afford a gym or not. And this is not the time to go back to fast-food chains, which are less expensive than for people to buy more organic food. We have a sicker society because of the economic recession. This all underscores that we have a broken health care system that needs to be reformed.”

Thousands of people, he says, “are taking chances. I see 62-year-olds with uncontrolled hypertension or diabetes thinking they can make it to 65 when they can get Medicare,” he tells WebMD.

Allen Dollar, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, says he has “a lot of patients who are well off but think their jobs are in jeopardy. This is stressful, so they are cutting back on health costs. Blood pressures are higher.”

“I worry mostly about people stopping their medicines,” he tells WebMD. “But the whole reason many are not in the hospital is their medications. It’s the perfect storm. People are scared, but fruits and vegetables are expensive. And people get depressed and don’t exercise.”

And people are avoiding preventive practices such as mammograms and colonoscopies, which eventually will cost them, he says, as well as society.

Furthermore, the stress of the economic downturn is causing millions to lose sleep, “which is bad because sleep decreases stress,” he says.

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