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Unemployment's Toll Can Be Heartbreaking
Date:4/11/2013

cent study, published Nov. 19 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that the risk for heart attack increased significantly for middle-aged to elderly people when they were unemployed. The researchers also found that the risks increased incrementally with each subsequent job loss.

Losing a job, however, doesn't mean automatic heart problems, especially if you take steps to protect your heart's health.

"Decreasing stress hormones is important," Chinnaiyan said. "We know from studies that behaviors such as meditation, yoga and tai chi work specifically to reduce our response to stress."

Meditation, one of Chinnaiyan's favorite ways to reduce stress, "can help in multiple ways," she said. "It helps you see your choices and have a clearer perspective of what to do next. Stress may still be around us, but meditation gives us a better ability to cope with it." Yoga can also be quite helpful in decreasing stress-related hormones, she added.

Higgins noted that it's crucial to keep up a regular exercise routine. He recommends exercising 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. "This helps reduce cardiac risk factors and depression," he said. But, if someone has significant clinical depression, exercise won't be enough, he noted, adding that it's then important to see a mental health professional.

He also recommends body muscle relaxation exercises. "Lie down and go through each muscle group in your body, progressively relaxing the muscles as you go," Higgins said. He noted that a variety of CDs and programs available on the Internet offer detailed instruction on relaxation exercises.

For some people, Higgins said, job loss support groups can also be helpful.

But what's most important, he said, is to remember that "while it's bad, you could be worse off."

As Higgins said: "One of my favorite quotes from Winston Churchill applies here: 'When you're going through hell, keep going.'"

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