Money Matters and Heart Health
Friday is payday for many Americans, but not for hundreds of thousands of federal workers affected by the government shutdown. For many of these workers no paycheck means no way to pay bills. And according to a new study published in the journal Circulation, that financial uncertainty could be hard on the heart.
The study indicates that income volatility more than doubles the risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure or death during the following 10 years, compared to a similar group of people with less income fluctuation.
Dr. Sudhir Mungee is an OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute interventional cardiologist. He says the stress of financial insecurity can absolutely be detrimental to heart health.
“We know that stress and heart disease go together. People with a lot of stress don’t do well where heart health is concerned, and you have more risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and hypertension,” explained Dr. Mungee.
While the study’s researchers followed their subjects for more than a decade, Dr. Mungee says these negative heart health effects don’t always take years to present themselves. Sudden stressful events can have an immediate impact on your heart.
"Unfortunately with what’s going on with lots of federal employees maybe, or even the stock market, sudden stress can cause a sudden surge of hormones such as cortisol. And those hormones have a tendency to have deleterious, negative effects on the heart health,” warned Dr. Mungee.
He says the best thing to do is to avoid stress when possible. Dr. Mungee admits that is easier said than done, but recommends trying to remember that there are events you can’t control, and that stressful times normally pass with time.
He suggests learning to practice relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga, to exercise regularly and to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
If you are experiencing a higher than normal level of stress and feel like you need help, OSF HealthCare provides a wide range of behavioral health services. To learn more, click here or call the OSF HealthCare Access Center at (844) 673-2778.