Researchers say workplace stress increases heart strain

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According to a Europe-wide study, a build-up of the stress associated with a tough workplace environment could contribute to more cases of heart disease.

Researchers from University College, London (UCL) found that increased heart strain was a potential consequence of working in an uncompromising job with little control over its effects. Such 'job strain' was linked to a 23% higher risk of a fatal heart attack.

stress in manual jobs could increase heart problems

The research involved analysis of outcomes from some 13 European studies. Response was gathered from up to 200,000 subjects, who were asked if their workloads were unduly heavy, if they were given sufficient time to properly do their jobs and what opportunities, if any, they had to make decisions concerning their roles.

UCL's researchers concluded that while all jobs carry some degree of strain, workers who suffer most due to their inability to control events are those regarded as 'lower skilled'.

For example, doctors called upon to make numerous decisions during the course of their work are less likely to experience workplace stress than people working on hectic factory production lines.

The study found that although workplace strain imposes fewer hazards than more widely-acknowledged risks such as smoking, how workers react to it could be telling.

According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), feeling stressed at work without being able to change the situation can increase the risk of heart disease.

"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," said Prof Peter Weissberg, BHF medical director. "Eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise and quitting smoking will more than offset any risk associated with your job."


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