Fluctuating income ups risk of heart disease

Henrietta Strickland
January 9, 2019

Researchers also focused on people who had lost 25% or more of their income from the last assessment and found that both volatility and reductions in income were associated with greater risk of heart events like heart attacks, strokes and heart failure, as well as early death.

Income volatility in the USA has reached a record high level since 1980.

People who had the most volatile incomes between 1990 and 2005 were a little more than twice as likely to develop heart disease and 78 percent more likely to die from any cause during the following decade, compared with people with the most stable incomes, Elfassy and her colleagues found. They asked them for their income at the start of the study and four more times, and also analyzed their medical records for heart events and deaths.

"While this study is observational in nature and certainly not an evaluation of such programs, our results do highlight that large negative changes in income may be detrimental to heart health and may contribute to premature death", Elfassy said.

However, unstable income can affect a person's health in a number of ways, said Donna Arnett, past president of the American Heart Association and dean of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health. Their ability to process blood sugar also is hampered.

The study, which began in 1990, measured income drop as a decrease of 25 percent or more. Arnett said. "I think it's a multitude of reasons that could be contributing to this finding".

Prof Elfassy said: "Income volatility is generally considered to be a sudden and unpredictable change in income over time, and most often it consists of declines in income".

Unpredictable drops in income are also associated with all causes of mortality, according to the study.

Researchers of a new study published in the journal Circulation looked at the data of almost 4,000 individuals starting from when they were 23 years old until they turned 35 years old.

The study noted while from young adulthood through midlife, most individuals experience at least some increases in income.

Income fluctuations were more prevalent among black people and women, according to the study.

The results suggest that people of all ages should pay more attention to less obvious, non-medical factors - like income - when it comes to their health, says Elfassy.

Arnett said that it's hard to remain heart-healthy when you're facing the stress of a job loss or pay cut. "We assumed that income drops or frequent changes in income were probably not good for health, considering that these are thought of as stressful events. You may be more likely to have a beer and have a cigarette for stress relief", Arnett added. "It makes sense for physicians to ask if anything traumatic has recently happened to their patients", says Elfassy, "so they can refer them to seek mental health counseling or give them positive words of affirmation".

"You don't need to take an expensive yoga class".

The study was published the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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