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Does losing your job up the risk of a heart attack?

'Losing your job can be deadly, because it increases the risk of having a heart attack by up to two-thirds,' The Daily Telegraph reports.

The news is based on a US study that examined the association between different aspects of unemployment (such as number of job losses and time spent out of work) and the risk of having a heart attack.

The researchers followed 13,451 older American adults for a period of up to 18 years and found that unemployment status, multiple job losses and short periods without work are all significant risk factors for a heart attack, even with adjustment for conventional risk factors such as smoking.

Despite the authors' findings, there are several limitations to this study:

  • heart attacks were self-reported and not verified by medical records
  • this was a US study, so there may be economic and social factors that may not be applicable to the UK population, such as the fact that Americans have to pay for their healthcare
  • people who took part in the study were older adults – arguably the last generation who grew up with the concept that a job would be for life – and younger adults better adapted to a world of job insecurity would possibly not react in the same way

Of note, the reason for job loss was not explored by the researchers. This could potentially have provided more meaningful results, as it may have revealed other possible confounding factors that could be involved in the link between job loss and heart attack risk.

However, the study does seem to suggest there is a link between job and economic insecurity and ill heakth.

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