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Fluctuating Income Places You At Risk Of Heart Attack And Early Death

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A fluctuating personal income can harm a person's financial well-being. Findings of a new research, however, show that unpredictable changes in one's income can also have devastating impact on a person's physical health.

Individuals With Volatile Income At Higher Risk For Heart Events, Early Death

Researchers of a new study published in the journal Circulation looked at the data of nearly 4,000 individuals starting from when they were 23 years old until they turned 35 years old.

Tali Elfassy, from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, and colleagues surveyed the participants for their income at the beginning of the study, and four more times after that. They also analyzed the participants' medical records for heart events and deaths.

The study revealed that individuals with biggest fluctuations in personal income had nearly double the risk of death and more than double the risk for heart problems such as strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, or death compared with those with more stable incomes.

Income Volatility On The Rise

The researchers said that their findings underline the urgency of addressing the public health threat posed by fluctuating income particularly in the United States, where income volatility has been on the rise and has reached record level since 1980.

"Income volatility presents a growing public health threat, especially when federal programs, which are meant to help absorb unpredictable income changes, are undergoing continuous changes, and mostly cuts," Elfassy said.

Income Changes And Poor Heart Health

The study did not explore what drives the association between income changes and heart events but earlier studies already established a link between stress, which can be caused by income changes, and poor cardiovascular health.

Stressful events may contribute to obesity, a risk factor for high blood pressure and heart disease. Low income has also been tied to poorer heart health since people with low or unstable incomes tend to have unhealthy lifestyle. They are likely to smoke more, get less exercise, and see doctors less frequently, which can contribute to risk of heart problems.

"Given the current economic environment of increasing income instability, understanding how volatility is associated with health has become increasingly important. Future studies focused on understanding mechanisms underlying the association between income volatility with CVD and mortality are warranted," the researchers wrote in their study.

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