grilled veggiesRESEARCH on older adults in the US has found people who have multiple job losses have the same risk of heart attack as smokers, those with high blood pressure and people with diabetes.

The research, by a team from Duke University, North Carolina and published recently in JAMA’s Archives of Internal Medicine followed 13,451 Americans aged 51-75. The Health and Retirement Study monitored them every two years from 1992-2010.

The team found the risk of heart attack was 35 percent higher among the unemployed than those who had not experienced job loss, with 22 percent for people with one job loss, rising to 63 percent for those who lost four or more jobs. The risk was particularly elevated during the first 12 months after job loss.

Unemployment is clearly a great source of stress, in much the same way as a stressful job can be. In hard economic times, you may not be able to do much to ensure your job is safe, but you can take steps to make sure your heart is healthy. These include maintaining a healthy weight, cutting down on table salt by using herbs and spices for seasoning, and ditching trans fatty acids – hydrogenated fats – often found in margarines, cakes, pies, biscuits, ready meals, cheap chocolate, sweets and ice cream.

Eating garlic or taking garlic supplements, along with a good intake of fruit and vegetables a day is also beneficial for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Fruit and vegetables are all high in fibre. Oily fish such as mackerel or salmon twice a week has also been found to help maintain a healthy heart.

Taking regular exercise is also important along with managing your stress levels. Supplements containing all the B vitamins, magnesium, Siberian ginseng and L-theanine are all helpful.

Source: The Journal of the American Medical Association. The Cumulative Effect of Unemployment on Risks for Acute Myocardial Infarction Arch Intern Med. 2012;():1-7doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.447.

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