Losing your job may lead to higher stroke risk

By Greg Hamilton • Published: July 14th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

As if losing your job isn’t stressful enough, a new study shows it could also greatly increase your risk of having a fatal stroke.

Researchers at Osaka University in Japan studied over 40,000 workers, men and women ages 40 to 59, for more than 15 years. They found men who lost their jobs had a nearly 60 percent higher risk of stroke than those who stayed employed, and they were 120 percent more likely to die from their stroke. Jobless women were over 50 percent more likely have a stroke, and nearly 150 percent more likely to die. The findings were reported in the journal Stroke.

In Japan, most workers are part of a lifetime employment system and so devote themselves to a stable job. If someone loses a job, it can be devastating, even if the person is reassigned to a lesser position. In fact, the study showed reassigned men had a nearly 200 percent spike in the risk of having a stroke. Interestingly, the risk was far lower among women with new jobs.

Researchers said the findings suggest the reassigned men may feel even greater pressure to keep their new job and hold off on taking sick days or visiting a doctor when they are ill. They also said losing a job can lead to an increase in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and drinking.

The study did not distinguish between those who were fired or laid off or who left their jobs voluntarily. The authors also emphasized the results do not mean that the loss of a job will lead directly to a stroke.

While the study focused on Japanese workers, who serve in a different employment environment than exists in America, the authors said the health consequences of a lost job could be universal.