Unemployment increases chances of heart attacks

Updated 21 November 2012

Unemployment increases chances of heart attacks

CHICAGO: Unemployment hurts more than your wallet — it may damage your heart. That’s according to a study linking joblessness with heart attacks in older American workers. The increased odds weren’t huge, although multiple job losses posed as big a threat as smoking, high blood pressure and other conditions that are bad for the heart.
The researchers analyzed data on more than 13,000 US men and women aged 51 to 75 taking part in an ongoing health and retirement survey partly sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. Since 1992, participants have been interviewed every two years about their employment and health.
The new analysis has several limitations. The data show periods of unemployment but don’t indicate whether people were fired, laid off, out of work while switching jobs, or had voluntarily left a job. The researchers considered all of these situations “job losses,” but it’s likely the greatest risks for heart attacks were from being fired or laid off, said researcher Matthew Dupre, an assistant professor at Duke University and the lead author. Sarah Burgard, a University of Michigan researcher who has studied the relationship between job loss and health, called the research solid but said it would be important to know the reason for the unemployment.
“There probably are differences in consequences of job loss when it’s voluntary or more or less expected” and when it comes as a sudden shock, said Burgard, who was not involved in the study.
The analysis appears in Monday’s Archives of Internal Medicine. An editorial in the journal says the study adds to decades of research linking job loss with health effects and that research should now turn to examining how and why that happens.
Theories include that the stress of losing a job may trigger a heart attack in people with clogged arteries or heart disease; and that the unemployed lose health insurance and access to medical care that can help keep them healthy, Burgard said.
The analysis covers 1992-2010. Participants were mostly in their 50s at the study’s beginning and were asked about their job history, and about employment status and recent heart attacks at subsequent interviews. People who’d had heart attacks before the study began were excluded.
Nearly 70 percent had at least one job loss, or period of unemployment after working at a job, and at least 10 percent had four or more before and/or during the study period.
There were 1,061 heart attacks during the study. Those with at least one job loss were 22 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who never lost a job. Those with at least four job losses had a 60 percent higher risk than those with none. Men and women faced equal risks.
Even though the odds linked with job loss weren’t huge, many participants already faced increased other risks for a heart attack because of obesity, high blood pressure or lack of exercise.

“Any significant additional risk is important,” Dupre said.
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Baby Talk: Conditions to be aware of in newborns

If your child’s abdomen feels swollen and hard, you should seek medical advice. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 January 2020

Baby Talk: Conditions to be aware of in newborns

  • Here are three physical conditions that are especially common in the weeks following birth. If you notice any of the following in your baby, contact your doctor or health center straight away

Abdominal Distension

Most babies’ tummies are normally rounded, especially after a large feed. Between feeds, however, they should feel quite soft and not stick out. If your child’s abdomen feels swollen and hard, or if they have not had a bowel movement for more than one or two days, you should seek medical advice. Most likely the problem is due to wind or constipation, but don’t take chances and seek the advice.

Birth Injuries

Labor is can be a strenuous time for both mum and baby, and it is possible for babies to be injured during birth, especially when babies are very large. While newborns recover quickly from some of these injuries, others may last for some time. Quite often the injury is a collar bone, which will heal quickly if the arm on that side is kept relatively still.  Don’t worry if a small lump forms over the site of the fracture. This is just part of the body’s healing process and is a sign that things are normal.

Labor is can be a strenuous time for both mum and baby, and it is possible for babies to be injured during birth, especially when babies are very large. (Shutterstock)

 Muscle weakness in a newborn baby is a common birth injury, caused during labor. However, muscles, usually weakened on one side of the face or one shoulder or arm, generally return to normal after a few weeks.  During this time it might be wise to ask advice on how to hold your baby to promote healing or at least prevent aggravation.

Blue Baby Syndrome

Babies sometimes have mildly blue hands and feet, but this may not be a cause for concern. Their hands and feet might turn slightly blue due to the cold, but they should return to normal as soon as they are warm. Occasionally, the face, tongue, and lips may turn a little blue when the newborn is crying hard, but once he becomes calm, his color in these parts of the body should quickly return to normal. However, persistently blue skin coloring, especially with breathing difficulties and feeding difficulties, is a sign that the heart or lungs are not operating properly, and the baby is not getting enough oxygen in the blood. Immediate medical attention is essential.