Stressed rich outlive stressed poor: study

Those who are stressed but affluent are likely to live longer than those who suffer similar stress levels but are also poor, reveals a new study.

The combination of being poor and stressed has been described as a “bomb” by researcher Dr Antonio Ivan Lazzarino, who examined a database of more than 66,500 people across England to gauge the effects of poverty on longevity.

Those studied were all aged 35 or over between 1994 and 2004. Each was questioned about their jobs and asked about symptoms of anxiety, depression, low confidence or social dysfunction. They were also each followed for an average of eight years

After adjusting statistics to account for age and gender, Dr Lazzarino and colleagues from University College London found that people who were poor and under stress were likely to die younger.

Having money appeared to act as a “buffer” when richer people were under stress, while, Dr Lazzarino warned, “low income amplifies the adverse effects of stress”.

The authors of the research, which is published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, suggest that wealthier people could have better strategies for coping with stress.

Dr Lazzarino said: “If you specifically target low-income people, stress screening may be very useful and cost-effective.”

His research comes just days after it was claimed that the being jobless in your 50s and 60s raised your chances of having a heart attack – and that stress could be to blame.

A study, also published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, into more than 13,000 people in the USA concluded that the risk of heart attack increased by one quarter in the first 12 months after losing a job.

Although stress does not cause heart disease, it can contribute to the level of risk.

About Jayne Howarth

Jayne Howarth is a freelance journalist with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. She worked for 15 years at The Birmingham Post and has also written for a wide variety of websites focusing on health.

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