PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — With many people out of a job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are wondering how to pay their next bills.

According to a study done by the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation, the economic uncertainty could be affecting people’s heart health.

The study indicates that income volatility more than doubles 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 income fluctuation.

Dr. Sudhir Mungee is an OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute interventional cardiologist. He says the stress of financial insecurity can absolutely be detrimental to heart health.

“We know that stress and heart disease go together,” Mungee said. “People with a lot of stress don’t do well where heart health is concerned, and you have more risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and hypertension.”

While the study’s researchers followed their subjects for more than a decade, Dr. Mungee said these negative heart health effects don’t always take years to present themselves. Sudden stressful events can have an immediate impact on your heart.

“Sudden stress can cause a sudden surge of hormones such as cortisol and those hormones have a tendency to have deleterious, negative effects on heart health,” Mungee said.

He says the best thing to do is to avoid stress when possible. Dr. Mungee admits that is easier said than done, but recommends trying to remember that there are events you can’t control, and that stressful times normally pass with time.

He suggests learning to practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, to exercise regularly and to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

If you are experiencing a higher than normal level of stress and feel like you need help, OSF HealthCare provides a wide range of behavioral health services. To learn more, click here or call the OSF HealthCare Access Center at (844) 673-2778.