Heart attack-related deaths rose sharply after 2008 crash

Study on ‘heart-broken Celtic Tiger’ details impact of job loss and economic uncertainty

Study found a 20% increase in cardiovascular deaths among men in the year after the crash. Photograph:  PA

Study found a 20% increase in cardiovascular deaths among men in the year after the crash. Photograph: PA

 

Medics have discovered that there was a spike in the number of heart-related deaths in Ireland in the year following the economic crash in 2008.

A paper in the current edition of the Irish Medical Journal (IMJ), states that the post-2008 increase in cardiovascular-related deaths across Irish males and females “could be connected to sudden job loss and uncertainty caused by economic difficulties”.

It states: “Loss of income was theorised to invoke feelings of shame and mistrust that can trigger a stress-related psycho-neuro-endocrine reaction which puts vulnerable individuals at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.”

The paper by medics based at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin and the King Fahd military medical complex hospital at Dhahran in Saudi Arabia found there was a 17.2 per cent increase in cardiovascular deaths on average across both genders in the year after the 2008 crash compared to the previous year.

The study found there was a 20 per cent increase in cardiovascular deaths among men in the year after the crash “that was strongly significant statistically” and an increase of 15.5 per cent in female cardiovascular deaths in the year after the 2008 crash.

While the report does not state precise figures for 2008, relying instead on percentages, it notes there were 24,839 cardiovascular deaths in Ireland in the years 2001-2012 . There was a decline over the period but a spike upwards after 2008.

In a similar study, the 2008 recession was found to have increased stroke-related deaths in California, more specifically for males. Also, the trend of stroke deaths in England was noted to have increased after 2008.

On their own study, the medics state: “To our knowledge this is the first study to specifically evaluate the effect of the economic crisis on cardiovascular mortality rates in Ireland.”

In the paper entitled Effect of the 2008 economic crisis on the cardiovascular mortality of the Irish population: an ecological 12-year study of a heart-broken Celtic Tiger, the medics state that “further research direction should specifically examine the cardiovascular mortality among different age groups, different professional roles, and different regions in Ireland”.

They state that it might be prudent, during times of financial hardship to predict a surge in cardiovascular mortality, specifically in males.

“Counteracting the effects of economic recession, for instance facilitation of re-employment, may help prevent a sizable portion of such mortalities.”