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Can Income Affect Your Risk of Heart Disease?

 

Short answer: yes.

You have most likely heard of the more common risk factors for heart disease, like blood pressure and diet. However, a new study shows that unstable income can easily turn into a risk factor for heart disease.

A study in the journal, Circulation, found that people who experience drops in income, have double the risk of heart disease, compared to those with a steady income. Additionally, the study suggests that those who have lost 25% or more of their income from one assessment to another also have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and even early death.

Drops in income can also impact your ability to foster a healthy lifestyle. Those with a lower income do not have the same capabilities to obtain healthy foods, ensure continuous care with a physician, and generally, upkeep a heart healthy lifestyle.

We are not always able to control our income, so this may come as unfortunate news. However, we should not forget our heart health, even in difficult financial times. If you have recently experienced a drop in income, try using the following mechanisms to cope with stress:

  • Talk to your doctor. Do not shy away from telling your doctor if you are experiencing stress from a financial burden. Your physician may be able to advise you on steps you can take to reduce stress that is personalized to you.
  • Maintain physical health. While it can be difficult to remember your physical health in the face of a difficult financial time, it is possibly one of the most important times to be cognizant of your health. To work on your physical health and combat stress at the same time, try exercising. A study found in the Journal of Physiology suggests that exercise can not only reduce your risk of death from heart disease, but 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week can also keep your heart young.
  • Practice optimism. A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that heart attack survivors who have an optimistic outlook are more likely to live longer. Let gratitude help keep you optimistic during hard times.

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