Job Stress Doubles the Risk of Heart Trouble

Workers who've suffered a heart attack may want to take it easy on the job. A study in the October issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association asserted that heart attack survivors were more likely to have a second heart attack or die of heart disease if they had chronic job strain.

Several studies have shown that job strain increases the risk of a first coronary heart disease event. However, little is known about the association of job strain on the risk for heart attack survivors., according to background information in the article.

Corine Aboa-Éboulé, M.D., Ph.D., of the Université Laval, Québec, Canada, and colleagues conducted a study to determine whether job strain increases the risk of recurrent cardiac heart disease events after a first heart attack. Job strain was defined and determined by the degree of high psychological demands and low decision control in a period of over 2 years.

The study included 972 men and women between 35 to 59 years of age, who returned to work after a first heart attack and were then followed up between February 1996 and June 2005. Patients were interviewed at baseline (on average, 6 weeks after their return to work), then after 2 and 6 years, subsequently.

During the follow-up period, 111 of the participants confirmed they suffered a nonfatal heart attack, 82 had unstable angina or chest pain and 13 had fatal heart attacks.

Numerous factors such as sex, age marital status, education, financial status and workplace social support can affect heart health. However, even when researchers factored in these possibilities, the study results still revealed that workplace stress doubled the odds of such heart troubles.

“Although further studies are required to establish optimal interventions, information about the results of this study should be disseminated in cardiac practice and in occupational health services with the aim of reducing job strain for workers returning to work after [a heart attack],” the authors wrote.

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