Horrible bosses: do they cause heart attacks?

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‘Being in a stressful job where you are bossed around could raise the risk of a heart attack by a quarter’ the Daily Mail has warned.

This story follows news published earlier this week that long working hours may increase heart disease risk.

In the study that this latest news is based on, researchers wanted to know what effect ‘job strain’ had on the risk of heart disease for workers. Job strain was defined as having a combination of a demanding job with little freedom to decide how the job should be done. Previous research has found that this combination can increase psychological stress.

The researchers pooled the results of 13 large observational studies (both published and unpublished) conducted across Europe over the past 25 years. The studies included almost 200,000 people and used validated questionnaires to assess their job strain. Fifteen percent reported job strain, and over an average 7.5 years of follow-up, they had a 23% increased risk of suffering, or dying from, a heart attack. This risk increase remained significant after taking into account conventional risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD), including lifestyle.

Given past research observing links between stress, workload and CHD, the link is plausible. It is possible that measures to prevent stress in the workplace might lower levels of heart disease.

If you are not in a position to improve your lot, the researchers also point out other effective methods of reducing your heart disease risk, including avoiding smoking or drinking too much alcohol, eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise.

 Source NHS

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