Severe Job Stress Increases Women's Risk for Heart AttackNew research suggests high job strain can place a woman at risk for cardiac events.

Job strain is a form of psychological stress that occurs when job demands are high in association with the belief that the individual has little control over one’s work.

While job stress has been shown to cause cardiovascular disease (CVD) in men, research to support that a similar linkage exists among women has been absent.

As women now occupy demanding jobs that involve significant amounts of psychosocial stress, researchers chose to study if a relationship exists between job-related stressors and CVD in women.

In the new study, researchers determined women with high job strain are 67 percent more likely to experience a heart attack and 38 percent more likely to have a cardiovascular event than their counterparts in low strain jobs.

The research is published in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

However, researchers did not find any correlation between job insecurity and long-term cardiovascular disease risk.

Lead researcher Dr. Michelle A. Albert of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, noted, “elevated job strain, a form of psychological stress, has long-term cardiovascular health effects in women and could suggest the need for health care providers to incorporate assessment of and identification of useful interventions that minimize the effects of job strain.”

In the study, more than 22,000 female U.S. health professionals were monitored for over 10 years as part of the Women’s Health Study (WHS). Over this time frame, researchers examined the relationship between self-reported job characteristics and clinical illness. From this review they discovered the strong correlation between job strain and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Experts believe the findings suggest the need to improve the psychosocial work environment to improve long-term cardiovascular health in women.

Additional research is also necessary to improve employee work models to minimize work-related stress. Finally, screening of employees to determine if they would benefit from stress management interventions can be a healthy strategy.

Source: Public Library of Science

Woman under stress at her job photo by shutterstock.