Can fluctuating personal income increase the risk of heart disease?

Can fluctuating personal income increase the risk of heart disease?
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Unpredictable drops in personal income during young adulthood have now been associated with an increase in the risk of heart disease in the US.

The new research has been published in the American Heart Association‘s journal Circulation, and investigates the relationship between personal income volatility and the risk of developing heart disease.

Income volatility

Income volatility in the US has reached a record high level since 1980. There has also been a recent rise income inequality.

The study’s lead author, Tali Elfassy, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, said: “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.”

The study used data from the ongoing Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study that is following 3,937 people living in four diverse US cities (Birmingham, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois; and Oakland, California).

The study found that women and African-Americans were more likely to experience high income volatility and income drops than white men.

The relationship between personal income and heart disease risk

The study found a significant association with the biggest fluctuations in personal income and more than double the risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure or death during the following 10 years.

Similarly, the study found that the biggest fluctuations in personal income were associated with nearly double the risk of death compared to a similar group of people with less fluctuation in personal income.

The study was unable to determine the cause of the association between income volatility and health because it was observational, rather than designed to prove cause and effect. 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.”

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