Health In Focus
  • Fluctuating personal income has been found to increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and premature death in a recent observational study
  • While slight alterations in income may be normal and expected, sudden and unexpected changes in income have been on the increase and become very high since 1980
  • If the issue is not addressed, it could soon become a major public health issue over a period of time

Sudden and unpredictable changes in personal income can seriously affect a person's health and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and premature death, according to a recent observational study conducted at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida.

"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," said study lead author Tali Elfassy, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida.
Fluctuating Income May Up Risk of Heart Disease

The findings of the study appear in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

Effects of Fluctuating Personal Income - An Observational Analysis

  • Participants in the study included 3937 young adults spread across four diverse cities in the US namely, Birmingham, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Oakland, California and Chicago, Illinois.
  • The team obtained clinical and other relevant data from the ongoing Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study that has been following up these people.
  • The study began in 1990 when the volunteers were aged between 23 and 35 years. From 1990 to 2005, the study team obtained alterations in personal income from five income assessments.
  • Volatility in income was measured as the percentage change in income from one assessment to the next and income drop was measured as a reduction in income of 25% or more between two successive assessments.
  • From 2005 to 2015, the team collected records of fatal and nonfatal heart-related events, as well as death from medical records and death certificates.
  • Individuals with the largest fluctuations in personal income were found to have an almost double the risk of death and more than double the risk for heart diseases, such as heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, or death during the following 10 years in comparison to a similar group of people with lesser degree of change in personal income.
  • Women and African-Americans were more likely to suffer from high-income fluctuations and drops in income compared to white men.
The findings of the study suggest a significant increase in the risk of heart disease and death in persons with a greater degree of income fluctuation than in persons whose incomes remain relatively stable.

"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," said Elfassy.


This is an observational study and has noted an increased risk of heart disease and death in persons with highly volatile incomes. The study does not aim to prove cause and effect between the two parameters but cautions that this may pose a public health threat.

Reference :
  1. Fluctuating personal income may be associated with an increased heart disease risk - (

Source: Medindia

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