Saturday, January 09, 2016

Would Stressful Work Lead To Higher Stroke Risk?

Based on the current fierce competition among peers and between companies, most people find their works getting more and more stressful. A group of Chinese researchers pointed out in their paper, which was published online October 14, 2015 in journal ‘Neurology’, that up to 1 to 4 jobs are high strain, and warned that people in this lines of work might just be at a higher risk of getting stroke.

Numerous past research has linked job strain to heart disease and high blood pressure. These kinds of studies usually define high-strain jobs as those with high demands and little control over decision-making using a well-established formula.

In the new study, data from 6 studies involving a total of 138,782 participants were studied and analyzed. These people were followed for 3 to 17 years. An existing system was used to classify job stress based on demands, like time pressure, mental load or coordination, and control, like the worker’s ability to decide when or how they complete tasks.

They found that people with high stress jobs involving high demand and low control, for example, waitresses and nurses, were 22 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than people with low stress jobs. The risk was 33 percent higher among women in high-strain jobs compared to those in low-strain jobs.

Risk of ischemic stroke, which is caused by a clot that blocks blood flow to the brain, was 58 percent greater in the high strain jobs group compared to those in low-strain jobs, in both sexes. On the other hand, hemorrhagic, which is caused by a broken blood vessel in the brain, was less linked to job strain.

Previous studies of work stress and stroke had been inconsistent, according to researchers. The inconsistency in finding links between job strain and stroke risk may be caused by different methods used to evaluate work stress, different psychological responses in men and women and different social culture with the studied populations.

It seems that increasing control in high-stress jobs could relieve some strain and might just mitigate some stroke risk, though this is not tested yet. While things like telecommuting, flexible work hours, allowing decision making to not be as top heavy, allowing people to make decisions about their own jobs would be an amazing public health intervention, researchers felt that further studies are still required to confirm if interventions to reduce work stress can actually decrease the risk of stroke.

Meanwhile, many other mechanisms may be involved in the link between high-stress jobs and the risk of stroke. For instance, high-stress jobs may lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as poor eating habits, smoking and a lack of exercise. It is also vital for people with high-stress occupations to address these lifestyle issues.

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