Work stress doubles risk of heart disease death
LONDON: Healthy people with stressful jobs who work long hours but get little satisfaction from what they do have twice the risk of dying from heart disease as satisfied employees, according to a study.
Job stress has been known to trigger heart problems in people who already have cardiovascular disease. Now Finnish scientists have now shown that even in healthy people the pressures of work can take their toll.
“Work stress seems to be an independent predicator of death for cardiovascular diseases,” Mika Kivimaki, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, told Reuters on Friday.
Obesity, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, smoking and being overweight contribute to heart disease -- a leading killer in many industrialized countries.
But Kivimaki and his colleagues, who studied the medical histories of 812 healthy Finnish men and women in a metal industry company over 25 years, said job stress also plays an important role.
“Even after controlling for the effects of conventional cardiovascular risk factors, high work stress was associated with a doubling of risk of cardiovascular death,” he added.
Workers who had the highest job-related stress levels at the start of the study were more than twice as likely to die of heart disease, according to the study published in The British Medical Journal.
Work stress involves too much work as well as a lack of satisfaction and feeling undervalued and unappreciated.
Many people work long hours but if the effort is rewarding the stress is minimized. Kivimaki said job pressure is damaging when being overworked is combined with little or no control, unfair supervision and few career opportunities.
“It is when you have to put much effort into your work but the rewards received are small,” Kivimaki said.
The British Heart Foundation said the results support earlier research showing that people in jobs with low control, such as manual workers, could be at greater risk of heart disease than other employees.
“It is advisable for people to try to minimize levels of stress at work and for employers to allow people to have more control at work and to be rewarded for their successes,” the foundation said in a statement.
Workers in the Finnish study who experienced the most adverse effects of pressure were those who remained in the same stressful job with the same employer for five years. —Reuters