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Aug 01, 2012

High Stress Jobs May Increase Risk for Heart Disease

Stress is a well-known risk factor for heart disease.

Stress is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. Not only can stress lead to poor habits like smoking and eating badly, it can also affect the body itself, decreasing the flow of blood to the heart and increasing blood pressure. That’s why people with high levels of stress on a regular basis are more likely to develop heart disease or have a cardiac event, such as heart attack or stroke. And according to a recent study, having a high-stress job could have a big impact on heart disease risk.

This study, which followed more than 22,000 middle-aged women for 10 years, found that women with high-stress jobs were 38% more likely to have a cardiac event, like heart attack, stroke and even death. This means that fast-paced jobs with heavy workloads can actually affect health in a negative way, especially among women. Interestingly, however, researchers did not find that job insecurity had a significant effect on risk for heart disease. So the intensity of a job, rather than how secure the job may be, may play a larger role in heart health down the road.

Based on these findings, it’s important that we find ways to reduce stress in the workplace to promote heart health. For individuals, increasing awareness of stress reduction techniques, like breathing or meditation, could help control stress levels and improve overall health. And in the workplace, allowing time for employees to relax and unwind is a must, as it could benefit both their health and productivity. Because whether it’s work, finances or home life, stress will always be part of our daily lives and it’s learning to deal with it that’s most important.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is stress?

  • Stress is the body’s normal response to events that make you feel threatened or upset in some way. In small doses, stress can motivate us and help us perform responsibilities, but high-doses of stress on a regular basis can have a negative affect on our health. 

  • What are the best ways to help reduce stress?

  • There are a number of techniques that can help reduce and manage stress levels, such as meditation, yoga and breathing. Increasing physical activity can also be a great way to manage stress, as it promotes overall fitness, helps decrease stress and improves sleep.

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