Work stress linked to heart disease

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Workers whose jobs are stressful are more likely to suffer from heart disease than those in less demanding roles, according to a university study.

Scientists used information from 200,000 people across European countries to analyse the effect a stressful job has on people’s health.

They found that those who worked in stressful positions, which were defined in the study as involving a high workload and little autonomy to make decisions, were 23% more likely to suffer from heart attacks or death from heart disease.

Professor Mika Kivimaki, from University College London, who led the study, said: “Our findings indicate that job strain is associated with a small but consistent increased risk of experiencing a first coronary heart disease event, such as a heart attack.”

Previous research into the relationship between workplace stress and heart problems has been inconclusive but the study found that the increased risk was still evident when age, lifestyle, gender and socio-economic background were taken into account. The findings were published in The Lancet online.

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  1. My last day at work was spent in the back of an ambulance, fortunately it was only an anxiety attack but the working experience I endured no one should have to put up with. It’s about time mental health was given headline news because it massively impacts the health of a business as the figures clearly show. And more than that people need help particularly now during tough times. Here’s what I wrote

  2. This report is the accumulated evidence of eight years from over 200,000 patients.
    It concludes that of all the factors that could affect the health of our Hearts one of the biggest was the strain that was put on them at work.
    Professor Steptoe tells us, “It’s been known for many years that emotional stress influences blood pressure, heart rate and blood flow.” What he and his team did was to study the effect that emotional stress has on biological processes directly involved with heart disease.
    What his team found was that the cause of Strain, and therefore a contributor to heart disease, was the frustration caused by an inability to control our own working environment.
    There are over 20,000 different studies that relate stress to heart disease but this is the first one that links directly the environment that is created at work to the strain on the individual that leads to Heart Disease.
    For years we have all been the recipients of a plethora of advice from health professionals about what we can do, in terms of our lifestyle choices, to minimise the strain on our hearts and therefore extend our lives. We all have clear choices to make and while we may not do everything we are told, we do still have some choice about the way that we live our own lives.
    This study however suggests that all of our healthy lifestyle choices, our diet, our exercise regime, our non smoking, may count for less when, with no choice in the matter at all, we are being regularly exposed at work to an environment that creates in us the stress that increases the probability that our hearts will fail.
    And make no mistake, heart disease kills people.
    What this study reveals for the first time is that as we understand more about the causes of heart disease we can make informed choices that allow us to reduce our risk in most areas of our lives, but at work we have little choice about the environment we work in, and as this report reveals, that environment can increase significantly the strain that will cause our hearts to fail.
    Nobody mentioned that in the interview.
    While the report finds that “Workplace Induced Strain” has a much smaller effect than tackling standard risk factors, the other factors are all about choices that we make for ourselves and are therefore under our control.
    Professor Cary Cooper in interview about the report told us that the frustrations we experience that increase the strain on our hearts, and therefore the likelihood of getting heart disease, are a direct result of the environment that managers create for us in the work place.
    The strain that is a direct result of the environment in which we work is created by management and is not under our control.
    When managers try to control the workforce they remove control from the individual and it is that lack of control that leads to the frustration that causes coronary strain.
    When we have so much information that allows us to make the choices about our own lives it is a shock to discover that our managers, who we may previously have just thought to be annoying, are actually, without our permission, creating an environment at work that is putting us at risk of serious coronary heart disease, and there is nothing that we can do about it.

    Or is there?

    Peter A Hunter

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