Women's health * 50+ health * Mental wellbeing

Job stress nearly doubles heart disease risk in women

Women with stressful jobs nearly double heart attack risk Also raises the risk of heart attack

A new study has found that women in stressful jobs have a 40 percent increased risk of heart disease compared to women in low stress employment.

And despite the current economic climate, having a stressful job is more damaging to a woman's health than the stress caused by worrying about losing it.

We often think that people in high powered jobs are under stress, but in fact a stressful job is one where we have lots of responsibilities but little decision-making power or right to use our own judgement in solving problems.

Previous research had found that men in similar circumstances are at higher risk of heart disease. The latest findings suggests the same effect applies to women.

Study author Michelle A. Albert, of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said: "Your job can positively and negatively affect health, making it important to pay attention to the stresses of your job as part of your total health package"

To understand how job stress affects a woman's health, scientists analysed data about heart disease risk factors, job strain and job insecurity from more than 17,000 women with an average age of 57 over a 10 year period.

They used a standard questionnaire to assess job strain and job insecurity with statements such as: "My job requires working very fast." "My job requires working very hard." "I am free from competing demands that others make."

The total increase in risk for heart disease was found to be 40 per cent overall, but for heart attack alone, the risk increased by 88 per cent.

Lead researcher Natalie Slopen of Harvard University commented: "Women in jobs characterised by high demands and low control, as well as jobs with high demands but a high sense of control are at higher risk for heart disease long term."

The study findings are to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2010.

This article was published on Mon 15 November 2010



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