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Sudden Loss of Wealth Increases Risk of All-Cause Mortality

Increased risk of death in those with negative wealth shock versus continuously positive wealth

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TUESDAY, April 3, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Loss of wealth over a two-year period is associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality for U.S. adults aged 51 years and older, according to a study published in the April 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lindsay R. Pool, Ph.D., from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues examined the impact of a negative wealth shock with all-cause mortality during 20 years of follow-up. Data were included for 8,714 U.S. adults aged 51 to 61 years at study entry in 1994 who were followed biennially through 2014.

Of the participants, 2,430 experienced a negative wealth shock, defined as loss of 75 percent or more of total net worth over a two-year period, 749 had asset poverty at baseline, and 5,535 had continuously positive wealth without shock. The researchers found that there were 2,823 deaths during 80,683 person-years of follow-up. Per 1,000 person-years there were 30.6 versus 64.9 deaths for those with continuously positive wealth versus a negative wealth shock (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.50). Those with asset poverty at baseline had 73.4 deaths per 1,000 person-years (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.67 compared with continuously positive wealth).

"Among U.S. adults aged 51 years and older, loss of wealth over two years was associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality," the authors write. "Further research is needed to better understand the possible mechanisms for this association and determine whether there is potential value for targeted interventions."

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