Matthew Dupre and his colleagues from Duke University, US, examined links between different stretches of unemployment and the risks for heart attack, known as acute myocardial infarction (AMI), in more than 13,000 Americans aged 51 to 75 years.
Dupre said: "Although the risks for AMI were most significant in the first year after job loss, unemployment status, cumulative number of job losses and cumulative time unemployed were each independently associated with increased risk for AMI."
The study group, with a median age of 62, had 1,061 AMI events (7.9 percent) during 165,169 personâˆ’years of observation, the journal Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine reports.
In the study group, 14 percent were unemployed at the start, 69.7 percent had one or more cumulative job losses and 35.1 percent had spent time unemployed, according to the Daily Mail.
Statistical analysis indicated that AMI risks were significantly higher among the unemployed and that risks increased incrementally from one job loss to four or more cumulative job losses compared with no job loss.
The risks of a heart attack were particularly elevated within the first year of unemployment but not thereafter, according to the study.
Dupre added: "We found that the elevated risks associated with multiple job losses were of the magnitude of other traditional risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes mellitus and hypertension.
"In the context of the current economy and projected increases in job instability and unemployment among workers, additional studies should investigate the mechanisms contributing to workâˆ’related disparities in AMI to identify viable targets for successful interventions," concluded Dupre.