Job Strain Is Another Risk Factor For Heart Disease!
Posted Feb 24 2013 9:47pm
There are numerous risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol drinking, overweight, sedentary lifestyle and smoking, that might lead to heart disease. Recently, researchers from University College of London and various institutions in Europe further confirmed that job strain could be another risk factor for heart disease.
In a paper published online on September 14, 2102 in the journal ‘The Lancet’, the researchers reported that job strain is associated with a small, but consistent, higher risk of getting a first coronary heart disease (CHD) event such as heart attack. Workers under job stress were 23 percent more likely to get a heart attack than their stress-free counterparts. The risk, however, was found to be much smaller than smoking or a sedentary lifestyle.
The aim of the study was to find out the link between job strain and heart disease risk of workers. Job strain, as defined in the study, is a combination of a demanding job with little freedom to decide how work should be done. Such combination was found by previous study to raise psychological stress.
Results of 13 large studies (3 studies each in Denmark and Finland, 2 each in the Netherlands and Sweden, and one each in Belgium, Britain and France) conducted between 1985 and 2006 in 7 European countries were used to perform a meta-analysis. All the studies adopted similar approach: participants who had no CHD were first interviewed and their health conditions were then monitored for an average of 7.5 years.
A total of 194,473 participants with mean age of 42.3 years were involved, and half of them were women. Dependent on the study, between 12 and 22 percent of participants had job strain. During the monitoring period, 2,358 heart attacks, either fatal or otherwise, were recorded.
The risk of getting heart attack for participants with job strain were 23 percent higher than those with job strain, even after taking into account of conventional risk factors such as age, sex, smoking, alcohol, body mass index (BMI), socio-economic factors and physical activity.
There is no doubt that the findings were significant, and the work-related health issues in Europe will definitely increase as a result of the job insecurity driven by the economic crisis.
While measure to prevent stress in the workplace might possibly reduce heart disease risk, such measure could be less effective than efforts to tackle smoking and physical inactivity, where the risk of CHD is more than 10 and nearly 4 times greater respectively.