Caregivers more likely to have poor physical, mental health, doctors say

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — More and more people have stepped up to become caregivers during the coronavirus pandemic — an already stressful time.

Medical professionals say a caregiver’s own health is likely worse than a non-caregiver.

“Stress increases high blood pressure, hypertension, and so it shouldn't be a surprise that there are more people who are caregivers who also have high blood pressure,” said Dr. Richard Snyder, chief medical officer at Independence Blue Cross.

His team compared medical data from caregivers and non-caregivers to find out which group had more issues.

“Obesity is more prevalent amongst caregivers, and if you understand that almost half the people mitigate their stress by eating, it kind of makes sense,” he said.

 His team found that caregivers have “26% poorer physical and mental health than non-caregivers.”

“That has increased significantly as a result of COVID-19,” Snyder added, “as more and more people becoming caregivers. In the state of Pennsylvania, somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% of people need somebody to care for them in one form or another.”

Snyder said pinpointing the medical issues that caregivers face helps the company better allocate resources.