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Job stress linked to heart problems
People in stressful jobs are more liking to have a heart attack, new research has shown
If that enticing job offer involves piling on the stress, it might pay to think again as the popular idea that over-demanding work increases the risk of heart attacks has been confirmed by new research.
Scientists found that people in stressful jobs are 23% more likely to experience an event linked to heart disease than less stressed individuals.
They came to the conclusion after analysing data on almost 200,000 people from seven European countries.
"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," said study leader Professor Mika Kivimaki, from University College London.
The researchers defined a stressful job as one involving high workload coupled with little freedom to make decisions. People often link work stress to heart problems, but in reality previous research on the subject has been inconclusive.
The new investigation pooled together results from 13 European studies conducted in the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands and Sweden between 1985 and 2006.
All the men and women taking part completed questionnaires about their jobs, workload, deadlines and freedom to make decisions. None had suffered a heart attack before providing the details.
Over an average follow-up period of 7.5 years, researchers recorded a total of 2,356 cases of heart disease events. These included hospital admissions due to heart attacks and deaths from heart disease. The greater risk reported for people in stressful jobs remained after taking into account factors such as lifestyle, age, gender and socio-economic background.
The findings are published in the online edition of The Lancet medical journal.
Prof Kivimaki said if the association was causal job stress probably accounted for a "notable proportion" of heart disease events in the working population. "As such, reducing workplace stress might decrease disease incidence," he added. But he pointed out that stress reduction would have a much smaller impact than tackling smoking and lack of exercise.
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