Job loss late in career doubles chances of heart attack and stroke

June 20, 2006

Losing your job late in your career doubles your chances of a heart attack or stroke, suggests research published ahead of print in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The researchers base their findings on participants in a nationally representative health and retirement survey in the US, which involved more than 12,500 people from almost 8000 households.

Baseline surveys were carried out in 1992 on 4301 people aged between 51 and 61, all of whom were in work at the time.

Ten years later, over 1200 people had retired and nearly 600 had died. Another 450 had temporarily stopped work; and 960 had left full time work for other reasons.

Of the remainder, 582 people had lost their jobs and 3719 were still in work.

Over the 10 years, 202 people had had a heart attack, of which 23 occurred in those who were jobless, and after they had been made redundant.

Similarly, 140 people had a stroke, of which 33 occurred in the jobless group, with 13 occurring after the job loss.

Analysis of the figures showed that those who had been made redundant over the age of 50 were more then twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared with those who were still in work.

The figures still held true, even after taking account of other influential factors, such as diabetes, smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure.

"For many individuals, late career job loss is an exceptionally stressful experience with the potential for provoking numerous undesirable outcomes, including [heart attacks and stroke]," comment the authors.

"Based on our results, the true costs of unemployment exceed the obvious economic costs and include substantial health consequences as well," they add.

BMJ Specialty Journals

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