Study: Losing Money While Young can Lead to Heart Disease Later

You’re working hard, paying your bills, and enjoying a social life on the side when, all of a sudden, you lose your job. Life isn’t so easy anymore. You worry about how you’re going to pay your rent and put gas in your car. Income fluctuations are stressful, and can lead to numerous health issues. One study found that when you lose money in young adulthood in particular, the risk for heart disease increases.

A recent study published in the journal Circulation shows that unexpected dips in income for young adults nearly double the risk of death and cause a more-than-50% increase in the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure during the following 10 years when compared to people with a steadier income.

Read: 5 Ways Stress Affects Your Mind and Body

Study leader Tali Elfassy, an 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.”

Beginning in 1990, Elfassy and colleagues focused on people who had lost 25% or more of their income. The team looked at cardiovascular events among participants that resulted in death or illness between 2005 and 2015.

The study looked at people in 1990, between the ages of 23 and 35, living in Birmingham, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois, and Oakland, California.

Most of the income fluctuations reported in the study were caused by periods of unemployment or pay cuts after changing jobs. Black people and women were more likely to experience income fluctuations, the study found. [2]

Read: 4 Things You May Not Know Are Harming Your Heart

The researchers were surprised by how much of an effect income instability appeared to have on heart health.

Elfassy said:

“We assumed that income drops or frequent changes in income were probably not good for health, considering that these are thought of as stressful events. But we were surprised by the magnitude of the effect we saw since we were looking at a relatively young population. These were strong effect sizes.”

The study didn’t look at what drives the link between drops in income and an increased risk for heart disease. However, stressful events are known to contribute to obesity and high blood pressure, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Moreover, having a lower socioeconomic status has been linked to poorer health, as people with lower incomes tend to smoke more, exercise less, and see their doctor less frequently, all of which can contribute to heart problems.

Read: Just 9 Walnuts a Day Can “Bust Stress Levels”

Elfassy said: [1]

“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.”

In the U.S., approximately 1 in 4 deaths are attributed to heart disease, which can be worsened by smoking and hypertension.


[1] UPI

[2] Time

Study Suggests 5 Hot Baths a Week Lowers Heart Attack, Stroke Risk

When you think of ways to improve the health of your heart, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising probably comes to mind (though you may not do them!). Those things are definitely important – by far most important, in fact – but there are other heart-healthy things you can do, too. It may be time to start taking some relaxing, hot baths, as one study found that taking 5 hot baths a week was associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

Researchers from Ehime University in Japan wrote in the journal Nature that taking at least 5 hot baths a week can lower a person’s blood pressure as well as their risk of heart attack and stroke. That’s a lot of relaxation!

In the study, Prof. Katsuhiko Kohara and a team of colleagues asked 873 study participants aged 60 to 76 years old to complete a questionnaire regarding their hot water bathing practices. [2]

“Hot” water was defined as water having a temperature of over 41°C (105.8°F) for an average of 12.4 minutes at a time.

Read: What Is a Detox Bath and How Do You Take One?

Researchers determined cardiac health by measuring brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity, which is a measure of atherosclerosis, and plasma levels of B-type natriuretic peptide, which is a standard measure of cardiac loading.

The team was able to include in the study longitudinal data they had on 164 of the participants, all of whom had undergone a minimal of 2 medical examinations, averaging a follow-up period of almost 5 years.

Participants who said they took at least 5 hot baths a week every week showed significantly lower markers of atherosclerosis and cardiac loading, the study found.

The authors said in the report:

“Water immersion is associated with increased volume of strokes, reduction of heart rate, an increase in cardiac output, and reduction of total peripheral vascular resistance. [However,] it has also repeatedly demonstrated that hot water immersion has favorable effects on cardiovascular function in patients with heart failure. [1]

Heat exposure shares the mechanism observed in sauna bathing, increasing core temperature, heart rate and contractility, redistribution of blood flow, and changes in conduit vessel endothelial shear stress. Elevation of core body temperature and increase in blood flow show similar physiological effects to those seen in exercise, which may account for the positive vascular effects associated with hot water immersion.”

Taking a hot bath for cardio-therapeutic reasons is known as “passive heating.” According to WebMD, passive heating could help lower blood sugar levels, decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure, and – as Ehime University scientists found – decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Though the research is only in its early stages.

That doesn’t mean that you should abandon a healthy diet and quit exercising to open up time for hot baths, though. Bathing in hot water 5 times a week should be viewed as another weapon in the arsenal against heart disease – something that should be included in an already-healthy lifestyle.

Baths Should be Part of an Otherwise Healthy Lifestyle

In the end, the individuals who benefitted from 5 hot baths a week may have benefitted from them so much because they already were leading a heart-healthy lifestyle. [2]

Prof. Jeremy Pearson — an associate medical director with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in the United Kingdom (U.K.) who was not involved in the study – said:

“This study shows an association between having regular hot baths and some indicators of better heart and circulatory health.

However, this is just an observation and might be related to other lifestyle factors, such as people who have regular baths may also be more likely to live a low-stress lifestyle, or have a healthier diet.

Far more research is needed to understand the link before doctors start prescribing a hot bath to the elderly.”

Not for Everyone

Some people, such as those with multiple sclerosis (MS), migraine headaches, or auto-immune diseases, shouldn’t soak in a hot bath, as doing so can make symptoms worse. [1]

Though the study found that soaking in hot water is beneficial for those with heart disease, the Cleveland Clinic warns that people with existing heart conditions should avoid hot baths and hot tubs entirely.

Cardiologist Dr. Curtis Rimmerman explained on Cleveland Clinic’s website:

“A sudden rise in body temperature creates significant stress on the cardiovascular system, predominantly via a cascade of adjustments resulting in an elevated heart rate. The higher heart rate – especially in the presence of reduced heart function, heart arrhythmias, and coronary artery blockages – can precipitate a cardiac event such as blood flow problems and, in the worst case scenario, manifest as a heart attack.”

If you have a heart condition, talk to your doctor before immersing yourself in hot water. But if you’re healthy, enjoy to your heart’s content, and reap all of the physical and mental benefits that come with lounging in a tub.

Don’t have a bathtub? Try try a sauna instead!


[1] Bustle

[2] Medical News Today