Why Bad Jobs Mean More Heart Risk
Worse Heart Function Linked to Low-Status Work
WebMD News Archive
June 6, 2005 -- Bad jobs often mean bad hearts, researchers report.
The findings have nothing to do with whether or not one is a good person.
They have everything to do with health.
Study after study shows that people with low-status jobs have more heart
disease than people who do higher-status work. Now Harry Hemingway, MRCP, and
colleagues at England's University College London Medical School say they know
The culprit: low heart-rate-variability. A healthy person's heart beats
faster or slower according to the body's need. But people whose heartbeats
don't change very much have a higher risk of heart attack and sudden death.
Hemingway and colleagues find that people in low-status jobs tend to have
low heart rate variability. Why? A person with a low-status job -- especially a
job in which he or she has little control -- is more likely to smoke, to get
too little exercise, to drink alcohol, and to have a poor diet.
Components of metabolic syndrome -- a group of factors that puts a person at
high risk of diabetes and heart disease -- were found to be associated with
lower heart rate variability.
The researchers say that disturbances in heart rate variability may be
involved in mediating some of the excess heart disease risk associated with low
Hemingway and colleagues would like to see studies of whether giving people
more control over their work might reduce their heart risk.
The findings appear in the June 14 issue of Circulation.