Journal Article

Stroke-attributable death among older persons during the great recession

Epidemiological evidence indicates an elevated risk for stroke among stressed persons, in general, and among individuals who have lost their job, in particular. We, therefore, tested the hypothesis that stroke accounted for a larger fraction of deaths during the Great Recession than expected from other deaths and from trends, cycles, and other forms of autocorrelation. Based on vital statistics death data from California spanning 132 months from January 2000 through December 2010, we found support for the hypothesis. These findings appear attributable to non-Hispanic white men, who experienced a 5% increase in their monthly odds of stroke-attributable death. Total mortality in this group, however, did not increase. Findings suggest that 879 deaths among older white men shifted from other causes to stroke during the 36 months following the start of the Great Recession. We infer the Great Recession may have affected social, biologic, and behavioral risk factors that altered the life histories of older white men in ways that shifted mortality risk toward stroke.