Failing to find a job could literally be the death of you. A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that being jobless can damage a person’s heart just like smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The study found that unemployed people between the ages of 50 to 75 suffer from heart attacks at a rate 35 percent higher than employed people with the same risk factors.
Duke University researchers studied 13,000 middle-aged and older adults.
While other studies have examined heart attacks and unemployment rates, they examined participants over the short term. This particular study examined cases over an 18 year period. By studying such a long period of time, researchers were able to gather information about single unemployment events and individuals with multiple rounds of unemployment.
According to the study, the first period of unemployment lead to a 22 percent increase in heart attack risks, while four or more jobless periods for a study participant increased those numbers by 63 percent.
The study found that four or more cases of unemployment can lead to the same gap in employed versus unemployed people as a nonsmoker versus a smoker or between a non-diabetic and a diabetic.
While the study shows a correlation between unemployment and increased heart attack risks, it does not determine what factors outside of stress may play a crucial role towards increase heart attack risks.
Researchers believe that some heart attacks are caused by workers who lose their health insurance and therefore neglect treatment for existing conditions such as hypertension. In other cases, unemployed individuals simply fail to get diagnosed for issues. Another theory is that budget constraints lead to unhealthy food purchases that are often cheaper to procure.