Job Loss Can Be Detrimental to Menopausal Women's Hearts

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it’s time to be thankful about so many things – family, friends, happiness, your favorite football team’s current season. The same goes for being employed, especially in this difficult economy. But what if you’re worried about your job? It turns out that that might take a hit not only on your stress level (and potentially your bank account), but also your heart.

    Researchers from Duke University followed a cohort of adults between the ages of 51 to 75 who were part of the Health and Retirement Study. Most of these participants were in their 50s when the study began. Furthermore, researchers did not include people who had previous heart attacks in the study. The participants were interviewed every other year from 1992 to 2010 with some questions focused on employment status, total number of job losses and total time unemployed. The researchers also tracked acute myocardial infarction, also known as heart attacks.

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    Their analysis found that the risk of acute myocardial infarction was significantly higher among the unemployed. Furthermore, risks increased incrementally for people who had suffered one job loss (22 percent) to those who reported four or more total job losses (60 percent) as compared to people who didn’t have a job loss. The researchers found that women and men both faced equal risks of heart attacks based on job loss. Additionally, the risk for an acute myocardial infarction was especially increased within the first year of unemployment but not thereafter.

    So why is this important news for women who are going through menopause? “Heart disease is the number 1 killer of women,” reports the Cleveland Clinic. “In fact, after age 50, nearly half of all deaths in women are due to some form of cardiovascular disease. That’s more than deaths from all cancers combined.”
    Interestingly, women’s risk for heart disease increases about the time she goes through natural menopause. Furthermore, younger women who have gone through early or surgical menopause and who do not take estrogen also are at a higher risk for heart disease. And women who have gone through menopause and who also have another risk factor (diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high low density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol), low high density lipoproteins (good cholesterol), obesity, inactive lifestyle or family history of heart disease) are at an even greater risk.

    So what can you do to reduce your risk, even if you’re worried that your job may be on the chopping block? Here are some tips:

    • Know and track your numbers. The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women website recommends following these health numbers: total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting glucose, body mass index, waist circumference, and exercise.
    • Exercise regularly. The Cleveland Clinic recommends making 30-40 minutes of physical activity part of your daily routine, but at the very least, you should try to be active at least three times (and preferable more) per week. “Activity and exercise also help reduce many other risk factors,” the Cleveland Clinic notes. “It helps lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, reduces stress, helps keep weight off, and improves blood glucose levels.”
    • Eat a healthy diet.
    • Avoid sodium. The American Heart Association encourages women to begin to focus on foods with the lowest sodium content in order to prevent or control high blood pressure.
    • Treat and control other conditions that are known risk factors for heart disease.
    • Stop smoking (or don’t start). Smokers actually are twice as likely to have a heart attack. Furthermore, second-hand smoke can increase the risk of heart disease among those who don’t smoke.
    • Drink in moderation. Alcohol can add calories, thus leading to weight gain. In addition, too much alcohol can cause your blood pressure to go up and may lead to heart failure and/or stroke.
    • Take one adult aspirin daily. The Cleveland Clinic notes that research has shown that a daily aspirin can decrease the stroke risk by 30 percent in women who are over the age of 60. However, be sure to get your doctor’s approval.

    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

  • American Heart Association. (nd). Heart disease prevention in your 50s. Go Red for Women.

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    Cleveland Clinic. (2011). Menopause and heart disease.

    Dupre, M. E., et al. (2012). The cumulative effect of unemployment on risks for acute myocardial infarction. Archives of Internal Medicine.

Published On: November 20, 2012