Effects of Proximate Foreclosed Properties on Individuals’ Systolic Blood Pressure in Massachusetts, 1987-2008

Study Questions:

What is the extent to which living near foreclosed properties is associated with subsequent systolic blood pressure (SBP)?

Methods:

The investigators used geocoded 6,590 observations collected from 1,740 participants in the Framingham Offspring Cohort across five waves (1987-2008) of the Framingham Heart Study to create a longitudinal record of exposure to nearby foreclosure activity. They distinguished between real estate–owned foreclosures (REOs), which typically sit vacant, and foreclosures purchased by third party buyers, which are generally put into productive use. Counts of lender-owned foreclosed properties within 100 m of participants’ homes were used to predict measured SBP and odds of being hypertensive. The authors assessed whether self-reported alcoholic drinks per week and measured body mass index (BMI) helped explain the foreclosure activity–SBP relationship.

Results:

Each additional REO located within 100 m of a participant’s home was associated with an increase in SBP of 1.71 mm Hg (p = 0.03; 95% confidence interval, 0.18-3.24) after adjusting for individual- and area-level confounders, but not with odds of hypertension. The presence of foreclosures purchased by third party buyers was not associated with SBP nor with hypertension. BMI and alcohol consumption attenuated the effect of living near REOs on SBP in fully adjusted models.

Conclusions:

The authors concluded that REO properties may put nearby neighbors at risk for increased SBP.

Perspective:

This study reports that the presence of REO properties near participants’ homes predicted higher measured SBP in a large cohort, with increased alcohol consumption and BMI partially mediating this relationship. Health care providers, particularly those serving neighborhoods still recovering from the recent housing crisis, should be aware of foreclosure activity as a possible source of unhealthy stress for residents. Local and national policy makers should investigate prudent options for getting more vacant, lender-owned foreclosures back into productive use in order to minimize the impacts of the recent housing crisis on public health.

Clinical Topics: Prevention, Hypertension

Keywords: Body Mass Index, Massachusetts, Hypertension


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