Unemployment may increase a worker’s chance of having a heart attack.
This is the conclusion of a Duke University study. Researchers found that older Americans who lost their job may be about 20 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, reports CBS News.
The percentage climbs as job losses mount. For workers, overall heart attack risk remains small despite unemployment. However, for those in the study who were already at risk, the stress of losing a job could be enough to cause such a cardiac episode. The study also said that the chance of having a heart attack increases with each job loss the person experiences. Four job losses may raise a person’s risk to 63 percent.
According to the Associated Press, the study analyzed data on more than 13,000 men and women ages 51 to 75. They had been taking part in this ongoing health study, partly sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, since 1992. Participants have been interviewed every two years about their employment and health. The study is not the first to make the connection between job loss and heart trouble, but Time indicates the 18 year study is the longest of its kind.
Dr. Eric Peterson, a cardiologist and senior author on the study, said:
“The magnitude of the impact was striking to us. There is this compounded effect of multiple job losses on an individual’s health. I think that was interesting and unique to see.”
The Time article stated that, though it appears unemployment does increase the chances for heart failure, a good application of the knowledge may be to help employers develop ways of letting an employee go that will not pose a devastating blow to his or her health.