Heart attack risk higher after losing job

Nov. 20, 2012 at 1:43 AM
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DURHAM, N.C., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Being unemployed may increase the risk of a heart attack, and the risk is highest in the first year of unemployment, U.S. researchers say.

Matthew Dupre, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University, and Linda George, a professor of sociology at Duke, looked at the different aspects of unemployment and the risks of heart attacks among 13,451 men and women ages 51-75 who participated in the national Health and Retirement Study, USA Today reported.

Participants were interviewed every two years from 1992 to 2010. Using statistical models, the researchers looked at associations between multiple aspects of employment instability and heart attacks.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found:

-- Heart attack risks were about 35 percent higher among the unemployed than employed, and risks increased incrementally from one job loss at 22 percent higher to four or more job losses, or 63 percent higher, compared with those without a job loss in their lifetime.

-- The risk of having a heart attack was highest the first year of unemployment.

-- The harmful effects of unemployment were consistent for men and women, and major race/ethic groups.

Participants had the same risk of a heart attack from unemployment no matter what their education level or socioeconomic situation, Dupre said.

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