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Unemployed at Higher Risk for Heart Attack?
Date:11/19/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- More bad news for the jobless: Heart attack risk rises with unemployment, particularly in the first year, new research suggests.

What's more, heart risks associated with repeated joblessness may be on a par with that posed by major cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking or having diabetes or high blood pressure (hypertension).

Investigators, who interviewed almost 13,500 older adults over nearly two decades, said the findings appear to apply equally to men and women of all major racial and ethnic groups.

"Our study investigated how different dimensions of job instability were associated with increased risk for a heart attack," said study lead author Matthew Dupre, from the department of community and family medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

"What we found is that risks for heart attack were significantly higher among the unemployed, and that risks increased incrementally with each additional job loss," he added. Voluntary retirement was not associated with a boost in heart health problems.

The strain of multiple job losses packs as great a punch to the heart as chronic disease or longtime negative behaviors, he said.

"For example, although current smoking status is a known risk factor for cardiovascular events, long-term patterns of tobacco use are more powerful predictors of risk," Dupre noted. "Similarly, it is not the onset of hypertension or type 2 diabetes mellitus that increases the risk of heart attack, but instead the strain that these illnesses exact on the cardiovascular system over time. Our findings for employment history largely mirror these protracted and cumulative associations."

For the study, published online Nov. 19 in Archives of Internal Medicine, the authors sifted through bi-yearly responses about employment status provided between 1992 and 2010 by participants in the U.
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