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.