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Fluctuating personal income linked to increased heart disease risk : Study

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Sudden drops in personal income for young adults have been linked to increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke and heart failure compared to people with less variation, according to a study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

The researchers, in the study that began in in 1990,  measured income drop as a decrease of 25 percent or more and looked at cardiovascular events among participants that led to death or illness between 2005 and 2015.

The researchers found that the biggest fluctuations in personal income were significantly associated with nearly double the risk of death and more than double the risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure or death during the following 10 years compared to a similar group of people with less fluctuation in personal income.

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According to the study, income fluctuations were more prevalent among black people and women.

“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,” study lead author Tali Elfassy, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida said in a press release.

The study focused on people aged between 23 and 35, living in Birmingham, Ala., Minneapolis, Minn., Chicago, Ill. and Oakland, Calif.

Overall, about one in four deaths in the United States results from heart disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking all contribute to the condition.

“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,” Elfassy said.

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Suicide can’t be predicted by asking about suicidal thoughts : Study

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Most people who died of suicide deny they experience suicidal thoughts when asked by doctors in the weeks and months leading up to their death, a major Australian study has found.

The findings, co-authored by clinical psychiatrist and Professor Matthew Large from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry, Sydney that published in the journal BJPsych Open The meta-analysis challenge the widely-held assumption that psychiatrists can predict who will suicide by asking if they are preoccupied with thoughts of killing themselves.

The study showed that 80% of patients who were not undergoing psychiatric treatment and who died of suicide reported not to have suicidal thoughts when asked by their psychiatrist or GP.

“If you meet someone who has suicidal ideation there is a 98 per cent chance that they are not going to suicide,” said Professor Large, an international expert on suicide risk assessment who also works in the emergency department of a major Sydney hospital.

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“But what we didn’t know was how frequently people who go on to suicide have denied having suicidal thoughts when asked directly,” he added.

“This study proves we can no longer ration psychiatric care based on the presence of suicidal thoughts alone. We need to provide high-quality, patient-centred care for everyone experiencing mental illness, whether or not they reveal they are experiencing suicidal thoughts,” Professor Large said.

About one in 10 people will have suicidal ideation in their lifetime. But the study showed suicidal ideation alone was not rational grounds for deciding who gets treatment and who does not, Professor Large said.

“We know that suicide feeling is pretty common and that suicide is actually a rare event, even among people with severe mental illness,” Professor Large added.

Suicidal ideation tells us an awful lot about how a person is feeling, their psychological distress, sometimes their diagnosis and their need for treatment but it’s not a meaningful test of future behaviour.

Suicidal feelings can fluctuate rapidly and people may suicide very impulsively after only a short period of suicidal thoughts.

But, people had good reasons not to disclose thoughts of suicide, fearing stigma, triggering over-reactions or upsetting family and friends, and being involuntarily admitted for psychiatric treatment, Professor Large said.

Professor Large emphasized that clinicians should not assume that patients experiencing mental distress without reporting suicidal ideas were not at elevated risk of suicide.

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