• Thursday, November 30, 2023

HEALTH

Stress of office jobs may double the risk of heart disease in men

Men who reported experiencing both job strain and effort-reward imbalance were twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to those not encountering these combined stress factors

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

A recent study conducted in Canada has revealed that men working in high-stress jobs who perceive a lack of recognition or reward for their efforts are twice as likely to develop heart disease, a risk similar to that associated with obesity.

The researchers investigated two key factors: “job strain,” which includes jobs with high demands and limited control over tasks, and “effort-reward imbalance,” where workers believe their compensation, recognition, or job security does not match the effort they put in, The Times reported.

The study involved nearly 6,500 participants categorised as “white-collar workers,” primarily occupying roles in management, professional, technical, and office-based positions.

These participants were tasked with assessing the levels of job-related strain and their perceived level of reward for their work. The educational backgrounds of the participants varied, ranging from individuals with no qualifications to those with university degrees.

Published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, the study monitored these workers over an extensive 18-year span, spanning from 2000 to 2018, tracking instances of “coronary heart disease events.”

According to the report, men who reported experiencing both job strain and effort-reward imbalance were twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to those not encountering these combined stress factors.

However, the study’s findings did not yield conclusive results for women.

The researchers noted that in men, the combined impact of job strain and effort-reward imbalance resembled the risk magnitude associated with obesity concerning coronary heart disease.

Men who encountered either job strain or effort-reward imbalance alone were found to have a 49 per cent higher likelihood of developing heart disease compared to those who did not experience either of these stress factors.

Mathilde Lavigne-Robichaud, a researcher at Université Laval in Quebec and the lead author of the study, emphasised the potential effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing workplace stressors, particularly for men.

She also highlighted the potential positive impact on women’s health, as these stress factors have associations with other prevalent health issues such as depression.

Lavigne-Robichaud noted the study’s inability to establish a direct link between psychosocial job stressors and coronary heart disease in women, underscoring the necessity for further investigations into the intricate interplay of various stressors and women’s heart health.

When asked about whether specific jobs or sectors carried a greater risk, Lavigne-Robichaud emphasized that the study examined risk in relation to workplace stressors rather than specific job titles or professions.

She pointed out that job strain and effort-reward imbalance, both identified as key stressors in their study, can be present across a wide range of professions and roles.

Lavigne-Robichaud clarified that these stressors are not limited to lower-paying jobs or roles with lower educational requirements. She highlighted that job strain can affect individuals in higher-paying positions as well, especially when they face excessive demands and have limited control over their work tasks.

Additionally, a separate study suggested that having highly educated colleagues may reduce the risk of developing heart disease for both men and women.

Researchers in Sweden indicated that highly educated colleagues tend to possess more knowledge about health-related behaviors, such as maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and abstaining from smoking. They also highlighted that both beneficial and detrimental habits can spread within social networks at work.

Published in July in the journal BMJ Open, the study analysed a register of 892,000 individuals from Sweden focused on establishing connections between education levels, workplaces, and the occurrence of coronary heart disease.

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