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New research from UHN's KITE Research Institute found that frequent moving may increase one's risk of death and need for long-term care following a heart attack.
Many people move homes for a variety of reasons, including health changes, financial pressures and family dynamics.
"Moving can be particularly stressful for people who recently experienced a change in health," says
Dr. David Alter, a Senior Scientist at KITE, and lead author of the study. "Because relocating can increase social isolation and psychosocial stress, it is important to consider how it can affect health status and frailty in people who are recovering from acute conditions, such as a heart attack."
To understand how moving homes can affect recovery following a heart attack, Dr. Alter's team monitored the health outcomes of approximately 3400 heart attack survivors and tracked their residential postal codes from the time they were released from hospital until their death.
The team discovered that moving was associated with a higher likelihood of death, independent of other factors that can influence health outcomes, such as age, sex, socioeconomic status and pre-existing health conditions.
The team also found that frequent moving was associated with a greater likelihood of needing long-term care.
"This finding is interesting because it sheds light on how moving can change a person's recovery and long-term health outcomes," explains Dr. Alter, who holds a Research Chair in Cardiac Metabolic Rehabilitation at Toronto Rehab and is associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto. “When someone transitions from living independently to living to a long-term care facility, they often lose social connections and access to community supports, potentially contributing to poorer health status.
"Recovery from a heart attack is not just a physical process – patients often require psychological, emotional and social supports," Dr. Alter says. "By understanding how moving one's home can shape health outcomes, we may be able to provide more holistic care and guidance for our patients, improving their health and quality of life."
This work was supported by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, the Ontario Ministry of Health and UHN Foundation.