Unemployed more likely to have heart attacks

HRM 21 Nov 2012
Being unemployed may be damaging to one’s finances, but research shows that it can actually be bad for your heart.

A new study has linked joblessness with heart attacks in older workers. Multiple job losses was as big a factor as smoking, high blood pressure and other conditions that hurt the heart.

The researchers analysed data from 13,000 men and women aged 51 to 75 who have been interviewed every two years since 1992 about their employment and health.

Nearly 70% had at least one job loss, or a period of unemployment after working at a job, and at least 10% had four or more before and/or during the study period.

There were 1,061 heart attacks during the study. Those with at least one job loss were 22% more likely to have a heart attack than those who never lost a job. Those with at least four job losses had a 60% higher risk than those with none.

Although data does not indicate the terms of unemployment – whether people were fired or retrenched or voluntarily left – it is likely that the greatest risks for heart attacks were from being fired or laid off, said Matthew Dupre, assistant professor at Duke University and lead author.

In a report by AP, Sarah Burgard, a University of Michigan researcher who has studied the relationship between job loss and health, called the research solid but said it would be important to know the reason for the unemployment.

Burgard added that there are differences in the consequences of job loss when it’s voluntary or more or less expected, or when it comes as a sudden shock.

The study adds to decades of research linking job loss with health effects.

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