News & Events

New Study Linking Unemployment to Heart Attack Risk Underscores Wisdom of Main Street Contract Campaign



Take a look at the story below about a new study that shows a significant increase in the risk of heart attacks for people who are unemployed. This study underscores the wisdom of the MNA/NNU’s Main Street Contract campaign, where nurses are advocating for broader social and economic policies that foster job growth and job security to protect, not only the middle class, but the health of all citizens. The state of our economy and the economic inequality that exists in our nation is a major public health issue that demands attention and action from nurses. To learn more about this campaign, visit 


Raises Threat of Heart Attack


 Unemployment increases the risk of heart attack, a new study reports, and repeated job loss raises the odds still more.

In a prospective analysis from 1992 to 2010 with interviews every other year, researchers tracked job history and heart attacks among more than 13,000 people ages 51 to 75. The study, published online Nov. 19 in The Archives of Internal Medicine, recorded 1,061 heart attacks over the period.

After adjusting for well-established heart attack risks – age, sex, smoking, income, hypertension, cholesterol screening, exercise, depression, diabetes and others – the researchers found that being unemployed also increased the risk of a heart attack, by an average of 35 percent.

Beyond the first year, the length of time unemployed was not significantly associated with increased risk, but repeated job loss was. Losing one job was linked to a 22 percent increase in heart attack risk, losing two jobs with a 27 percent increase, three jobs with a 52 percent increase, and a loss of four or more jobs with a 63 percent increase.

The magnitude of these risks for heart attack, the authors write, is similar to that of smoking, diabetes and hypertension.

"We don’t know what the mechanisms are," said the lead author, Matthew E. Dupre, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke. "But until we do, it’s important to be aware of what the stress of a job loss might do, and that people who experience more than one loss might be at even higher risk."