Study: Losing a Job Increases Risk of Heart Attack by 22 Percent
Unemployed? Food, shelter, and a new job may be your biggest concerns, but a recent study suggests your heart may also be at risk. Between 1992 and 2010, researchers biennially checked up on about 13,500 American men and women, with a median age of 62. Among the participants, nearly 70 percent had experienced one or more job loss. Those who had lost at least one job were 22 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who had never lost a job, reports the Associated Press. And individuals who had dealt with at least four job losses? Their risk of heart attack was 60 percent higher than those remained employed, according to the study, published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The AP points out that this study isn't perfect: Job losses, for example, encompass being fired, laid off, voluntarily quitting, and being out of work while switching jobs.
Whether you're employed or not, quitting smoking, eating right, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight are key to heart health. And if you do lose your job, try to limit stress, which does no good for your heart. "You may not be able to change the fact you are unemployed, but you can change how you think about it, and that will affect your health outcomes—both short and long term," Anne McCracken, chair of the International Stress Management Association, told BBC News. "When unemployment occurs, consider what you can do to keep yourself physically active and mentally engaged as that is a key element to maintaining your wellbeing."
Take Action for Heart Health
Our 21st century lifestyle is bumping up our risk of heart disease. The convenience of cars and fast food, coupled with high-stress jobs, too little sleep, and a floundering economy is creating a toxic environment for our heart health. "Over the last couple of decades, the risk for cardiovascular disease has decreased, but now we may be reaching an inflection point, where the risks will climb again if we fail to manage how we live," says Marc Gillinov, a cardiovascular surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic and coauthor of Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You'll Ever Need (Three Rivers Press, 2012).
We can't take this vital organ for granted, as no one is immune to heart disease. But heart disease is largely preventable, notes Gillinov. New studies are shining light on a few surprising risk factors, while offering fresh insight on how to keep your heart ticking for many years. Consider:
1. Cultivate a positive attitude—it does the heart good. The mind-body connection is being increasingly recognized as important to a thriving heart. Harvard School of Public Health researchers Julia Boehm and Laura Kubzansky recently completed a literature review examining the link between positive psychological well-being and cardiovascular disease. They learned that optimistic people can cut their risk of a first heart attack by 50 percent compared to glass-half-empty types. [Read more: Take Action for Heart Health]
10 Small Diet Changes to Start Making Now
Why is it that most people who want to lose weight think they need to make immediate, drastic changes in order to be successful? They go into a "diet mode," they try this or that fad, and they start depriving themselves of all the foods they enjoy. Eventually they feel frustrated and give up—again.
My approach has always been to focus on small changes. I believe that if you feel good about one small change, you can easily make another, then another, writes U.S. News blogger Keri Gans. Success breeds success. Bottom line: You should never feel like you are on a diet—healthy eating should be part of your lifestyle, not something that you simply try out for size. Here are 10 easy adjustments to start making today:
1. Create a healthy eating schedule: Skipping meals is never a good idea—it almost always leads to gorging later on. Get into the habit of eating three meals per day, and, depending on your schedule, including one to two snacks. Eating every three to five hours can help you keep your appetite controlled and your waistline in check.
2. Brighten your plate, naturally: The foundation of every meal should be fruits and veggies. They're high in fiber to help fill you up, but they're not high in calories to fill you out. A good rule of thumb: If your plate lacks fruits or veggies it probably has too much of something it shouldn't. [Read more: 10 Small Diet Changes to Start Making Now]