Covid induced unemployment may increase heart disease risk in NZ

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Wellington– New Zealand researchers have revealed that Covid-19 induced recession and rising unemployment may increase the occurrence of heart disease, particularly in middle-aged men.

According to the researchers from the University of Otago, the pandemic-induced recession and rising unemployment may increase the risk of heart disease in New Zealand.

For the study, the research team analysed research papers published since 2000 on the association between unemployment and economic crises and heart disease.

Most of the studies found that increase in unemployment is connected to a rise in heart disease and death, especially for middle-aged men.

The study also showed an association between chronic psychosocial stress and high blood pressure, a known risk factor for heart disease.

“It is clear that involuntary unemployment causes stress and forces most people to lower their standard of living. Being in a less financially secure position and living in a deprived area are also risk factors for heart disease,” said study author Nhung Nghiem from the University of Otago.

According to the researchers, the wage subsidies and job creation programmes introduced by the New Zealand government in response to the pandemic have been positive moves – but more might be needed to be done to prevent unemployment from rising further.

The government could minimise the impact rising unemployment is having on heart disease by reducing other key risk factors for the condition.

It could make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025, introduce regulations to reduce the level of salt and saturated fat in processed food and improve the uptake of preventive medications, including cholesterol-lowering statins and treatments for high blood pressure.

“The government needs to address both unemployment and heart disease if it wants to reduce health inequities in this country,” the authors wrote. (IANS)

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