Job Loss Increases Heart Attack Risk

As if being out of work wasn’t bad enough… Medical researchers at Duke University have concluded that people who are newly unemployed are at significantly higher risk – try 60% - of having a heart attack than those who are not “looking unsuccessfully for work..” The more job losses a person has experienced,  the greater the risk. The risk lessens after the first year of a person being unemployed.

The article, which appeared in, references 13,000 participants in a  Health and Retirement Study begun in 1992. In an accompanying video Dr. Redford Williams, Jr., a professor of Medicine and Behavioral Psychiatry at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, reviews the high points of the studies and concludes that people should figure out ways to confront the stress of unemployment.

“What we need are controlled clinical trials with people who are recently unemployed to see if some of these interventions would reduce this 40%-60% higher rate of having a heart attack,” Williams says in the video.

The article notes that the study adjusts for socio-demographic factors including smoking, insurance status, alcohol consumption and body mass index. Equally important, MedPage Senior Editor John Gever, who wrote the story, acknowledges that while the study may have clinical implications, “unemployment is rarely a modifiable risk factor.”

Other caveats:  “The study was limited because of the lack of data on pre-MI medication usage for cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia."

They also could not identify the nature of work or the reasons for job loss.”

Read the full article here.