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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Heart attack risk higher for disempowered workers under stress


Being under stress at work but not having the power to change the situation increases the risk of a heart attack or death from coronary heart disease, researchers have found.

As a result, according to a team at the University College London, ‘job strain’, which is a form of stress, appears to be most common among lower-skilled workers.
This means that, although doctors may have to make a lot of important decisions in their work, they are less likely to suffer from job strain than someone working on a busy factory production line.
The researchers, who published their findings in the Lancet medical journal, analysed 13 existing European studies covering almost 200,000 people and found that the complaint was linked to a 23% increased risk of heart attacks and deaths from coronary heart disease.
But they also found that eliminating job strain only directly prevented 3.4% of such cases, while quitting smoking resulted in a 36% fall. The key issue was that job strain tended to lead to lifestyle choices that took their toll on the heart.
One of the researchers, professor Mika Kivimaki, told the BBC: “We know smokers with job strain are more likely to smoke a bit more, active people with job strain are likely to become more inactive and there is a link with obesity. If one has high stress at work, you can still reduce risk by keeping a healthy lifestyle.”
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, agreed.
“Though stresses at work may be unavoidable, how you deal with these pressures is important, and lighting up a cigarette is bad news for your heart,” he said. “Eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise and quitting smoking will more than offset any risk associated with your job.”

One Response

  1. priorities are everything

    Always great to have a reminder of what is really important. As much as we love our businesses and have to put alot of effort into making ourselves a success at work, it is important that your health and lifestyle choices so not come secondary. 


    Dave Evans, commercial director at acessplanit, specialising in learning management system and training management system

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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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