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Economic Issues Could Increase Heart-Disease Risk

Researchers and doctors have spent years studying the causes of heart disease and which factors promote cardiovascular health. (Creative Commons)
Researchers and doctors have spent years studying the causes of heart disease and which factors promote cardiovascular health. (Creative Commons)
January 18, 2019

Richmond, VA - As the partial government shutdown continues, medical professionals are urging people to be mindful of the unseen effects on federal workers and their families, including prolonged stress that could put them at risk for health troubles, including heart disease. Comments from Dr. Reggie Robinson, cardiologist, MedStar Cardiology Associates, LLC.

Stress can affect a person's mental and physical health in many ways, and as the government shutdown keeps many in financial stress, a new study shows fluctuating personal income may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease. According to research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, sudden drops in personal income during adulthood nearly double the risk of death, and more than double the risk for heart disease. Although the study is observational and not designed to prove cause and effect, cardiologist Reggie Robinson says it acknowledges the social determinants of health, rather than focusing on diet and exercise.


"But there are a lot of social factors - like this income volatility and poverty, and loss of job - can play a huge role on long-term health outcomes, which showed in this study."

The study began in 1990 tracking nearly four-thousand participants in cities across the country between ages 23 and 35. The research also found women and African Americans are more likely to experience high income volatility and income drops than white men.

Even though the research looked at a younger population, Robinson says the conclusions can easily apply to other age groups - especially considering that as people get older, they develop more risk factors, many of which can be triggered by worrying too much.

"That acid buildup in the stomach from all the stress that you may have may lead to potentially increasing your risk of having ulcers and inflammation in the stomach or esophagus. It's something that's probably under-appreciated, how work-life stress can impact your health."

While it's easier said than done, Robinson recommends finding time to exercise or meditate, discuss issues with friends and just take a deep breath from time to time to reduce stress. He recommends trying these natural measures before pursuing any that involve drugs.

Stress can affect a person's mental and physical health in many way,s and as the shutdown keeps many in financial stress, a new study shows fluctuating personal income may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Trimmel Gomes (trim-MELL GOAMZ) reports.

I'm Trimmel Gomes

Reach Robinson via Shannon.Klosterman@heart.org. Study at https://bit.ly/2RF1tyF.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - VA