Fluctuating personal income may be associated with an increased heart disease risk

Mapping reveals reactions differ in male and female brains during cardiovascular activity

Mapping reveals reactions differ in male and female brains during cardiovascular activity

"We found that individuals in the highest third of income volatility - the individuals with the most fluctuation in income - had an nearly double risk of cardiovascular disease and death in the subsequent 10 years, compared with people who had the least fluctuation in income", said lead researcher Tali Elfassy.

Those caught in an income squeeze can also have their health affected by more practical problems, Arnett added.

Researchers collected data over a 15-year period from almost 4,000 people living in four diverse US cities, including Chicago.

"Individuals with higher income volatility were more likely to be women, black, have lower income in general, and less likely to be married", Elfassy said.

However, Elfassy contended the health impacts of changes in personal income need further investigation.

Researchers also focused on people who had lost 25% or more of their income from the last assessment and found that both volatility and reductions in income were associated with greater risk of heart events like heart attacks, strokes and heart failure, as well as early death.

The researchers collected data on changes in income in five assessments from 1990 to 2005.

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While the study was not created to explore what drives the link between income changes and heart events, previous research established a strong connection between stress - which can be triggered by income changes - and adverse effects on the heart. The participants who took part in the research were aged 23-35 years old in 1990 when the study initially kickstarted. They subsequently followed the cohort for 10 years to assess cardiovascular incidents and mortality based on medical records and death certificates, Tali Elfassy, one of the study's lead authors, told CBS MoneyWatch.

"Fluctuations in income are actually very common", Elfassy said.

Sudden, unpredictable drops in personal income during young adulthood are associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease and/or dying from any cause, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

Low wages may lead to unhealthy behaviours such as drinking, smoking or not exercising while juggling the finances may increase stress and blood pressure which is known to affect heart health.

Previous studies in Australia and Sweden found long-term falling wages was linked to poorer mental health and physical health. Elfassy explained: "While this study is observational in nature and certainly not an evaluation of such programs, our results do highlight that large negative changes in income may be detrimental to heart health and may contribute to premature death".

The study was published online January 7 in the journal Circulation.

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