Link found between stress at work and heart disease

The risk of death from cardiovascular disease is doubled in stressed
employees, study finds

Researchers have found a link between work-related stress and heart disease.

Doctors in Finland have concluded that work stress needs to be tackled as a
way of improving employees’ health.

The stresses and strains of the workplace and an imbalance in the amount of
effort workers put in against their rewards were each associated with a
doubling of the risk of cardiovascular death, the study published in the
British Medical Journal reported.

Stress was also a factor in other workplace problems, such as why people ate
too much, continued to smoke or did not take enough exercise.

The researchers studied 812 healthy men and women who worked in factories in
Finland over a period of 25 years. During that period, 73 died from heart
disease or stroke. After taking age and sex into account, those who faced high
demands or had little control over the way they worked were 2.2 times more
likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

Workers in jobs with high demands, low salaries and a lack of social
approval were 2.4 times more at risk.

After five years, there was an increased risk of having higher blood
cholesterol levels, associated with high job strain.

"High job strain and effort-reward imbalance seem to increase the risk
of cardiovascular mortality. The evidence from industrial employees suggests
that attention should be paid to the prevention of work stress," concluded
lead researcher Professor Mika Kiviaki.

BMJ 2002;325:857

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