Research: Dramatic Income Shifts Could Hurt Your Health
09 January, 2019, 14:38
"While this study is observational in nature and certainly not an evaluation of such programmes, our results do highlight that large negative changes in income may be detrimental to heart health and may contribute to premature death".
A fluctuating income can increase a person's risk for heart disease, a new study suggests. She is an assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
The study found a significant association with the biggest fluctuations in personal income and more than double the risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure or death during the following 10 years.
However, the study failed to determine the cause of the association between income volatility and health, as it was observational and not created to precisely prove cause and effect.
However, unstable income can affect a person's health in a number of ways, said Donna Arnett, past president of the American Heart Association and dean of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.
Stressful events may contribute to obesity, a risk factor for high blood pressure and heart disease. Researchers looked at their medical history and any major health events, while also tracking income information.
"Could it be you can't take your medications because you can't afford them, you can't afford to see a physician, you can't afford the right diet?"
"Another potential limitation of this paper is we haven't really explored mechanisms of action, we are really looking at income and not how this process of income fluctuation translated into health outcomes, we are not looking at the biological mechanism there", Elfassy continued. "For this study, we were interested in changes in income over time and how that is associated with disease and mortality".
Overall, about one in four deaths in the United States results from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers observed almost 4,000 individuals ages 23-35 across four different American cities, assessing participants' income over a period of 15 years from 1990 to 2005. The researchers assessed income volatility based on large swings in income.
Is income volatility a public health issue?
Only about 5 percent of the sample had absolutely no changes in income during the 15-year period, while about 90 percent experienced at least one pay increase, the researchers reported. "While income volatility and other longitudinal conceptualizations of income have gained recognition in medical research on the social determinants of health, in many epidemiologic studies, income is measured at a single point in time in the life course rather than repeatedly over time", the study authors wrote.
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