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January 4, 1980

Retiring may predispose to fatal heart attack

JAMA. 1980;243(1):13-14. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300270007004

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Clinicians have long suspected that retirement is detrimental to the health of some patients. Now, investigators at Harvard Medical School's Channing Laboratory in Boston suggest that it may lead to fatal coronary heart disease.

Charles H. Hennekens, MD, and associates stumbled on this finding in the course of a study originally designed to test the hypothesis that coffee consumption is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Coffee drinkers, they found, were not at greater risk of dying of heart attacks, but retirees were.

The team selected their subjects via a weekly review of death certificates for married white men, aged 30 to 70, in 1973 and 1974. All of the men had died of coronary heart disease within 24 hours after symptoms of it developed. They were matched by age (within one decade) and neighborhood of residence to an equal number of living control subjects chosen through systematic household