Job loss in 50s doubles risk of heart attack

Yale: A new study from the US reveals that people who lose their jobs in their 50s double the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Researchers at Yale University looked at more than 4,000 US workers aged between 51 and 61, who were still in employment in 1992. They later reviewed the statistics for those who had heart attacks and strokes over the next ten years and how many had lost their jobs.

The authors said their findings held true even after adjusting for risk factors such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Dr William Gallo, from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, said: ‘We found that workers over 50 years of age who experience involuntary job loss are at increased risk for both subsequent heart attack and stroke relative to individuals who continue to work.

‘The magnitudes of association are substantial, with job-losers having over twice the risk compared with workers who remain employed.

‘For many individuals, late career job-loss is an exceptionally stressful experience with the potential for provoking numerous undesirable outcomes.’ The authors conclude that doctors should be aware of physical effects where the ‘true costs of unemployment exceed the obvious economic costs’.

Writing in Occupational and Environmental Medicine from the British Medical Journal, they said: ‘ Physicians who treat individuals who lose jobs as they approach retirement should therefore consider the loss of employment, with its associated anxiety.’