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Bad Economy Puts Stress on Hearts

a man look stressed

Being laid off or fired not only wrecks your finances, but can cause a heart attack as well, a top doctor says.

“Because of all this unemployment, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in cardiac patients. People who have lost their jobs are frightened, scared, and they are under great stress, and that causes heart attacks,” renowned cardiac specialist Chauncey Crandall, M.D. tells Newsmax Health.

He added that he expects the problem to get worse during the Christmas buying season. “This is the time of the year when advertising urges people to spend money. This will only make those dealing with job loss feel worse and add stress,” Dr. Crandall said.

A study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that losing a job can raise heart attack risk as much as smoking.

“This doesn’t surprise me,” said Dr. Crandall, head of cardiac preventive services at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Jupiter, Fla. “Losing a job sets off a downward spiral. When people lose their job, all of the normal things they do to control their risk factors go out of control. Too often, depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse follow.

“These are all fueled by fear, and they precipitate the additional risk factors known to cause heart attacks and lead to heart disease.”

The new study followed nearly 13,500 Americans for 18 years. The researchers found that those who had lost a job were 22 percent more likely to have a heart attack or cardiac arrestthan those who had never lost a job. Furthermore, those who had lost at least four jobs were at a 60 percent increased heart attack risk. No such heart attack risk increase was seen in people who stopped working voluntarily.

“It’s a huge problem. A woman who had lost her job came to see me in the office yesterday, crying. People are losing their houses. Women who are divorced and are single parents are losing their jobs. Adult children are losing their homes, and moving in with their parents and even their grandparents. It’s a terrible mess,” says Dr. Crandall.

The issue is made worse because when people lose their jobs, they usually also lose their health insurance, Dr. Crandall notes. “Before, we were seeing perhaps 15 percent uninsured and now it’s up to 30 percent. People who have lost their jobs may have found a part-time job, but they don’t get insurance. They may be working three part-time jobs, but none of them pay full insurance benefits.

If a person’s employment situation turns around, the damage to their health may persist, he said. “Even if things get better for these people, the damage they suffered can be long-term. They may not suffer a heart attack immediately, but could be stricken a year from now.”

The best solution, says Dr. Crandall, is for people who are dealing with unemployment to put their newfound free time to good use by eating a better diet and exercising.

“I tell them to use their downtime for recovery and to get in better shape,” he said. “I’ve seen this work for people. They look better, they feel stronger, and, when they go out job-hunting, they have that extra confidence that really pays off.”

Take the 5-minute interactive challenge: Do you know what to do if someone is having a heart attack or cardiac arrest?

Read more from this article: Top Cardiologist: Bad Economy Puts Stress on Hearts

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