Unemployment May Be Just as Bad for Heart as Smoking

Study finds the more job losses, the more your risk of heart attack
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2012 2:58 PM CST

(Newser) – Depressing news from a new study: Losing a job repeatedly could be just as bad for your heart as smoking, high blood pressure, or diabetes, Time reports. The study looked at more than 13,000 adults aged 50 to 75 and followed them for 18 years, finding a strong link between job loss and heart attack risk that increased with each successive period of unemployment. The difference in heart risk between someone who has never lost a job and someone who has lost four or more was found to be the same as that between someone who smokes and someone who doesn't, or someone with diabetes and someone without.

After one job loss, heart attack risk was about 22% higher for the unemployed than it was for those still working. But by the time a participant had experienced four or more periods of unemployment, the risk was 63% higher. The study did adjust for other heart attack risk factors, and found that overall, the unemployed have a 35% higher risk of heart attacks than the employed. Previous studies have also shown a link, but this is one of the longest-term studies ever done, and was thus able to show how multiple job losses can affect health. (Read more jobless stories.)

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