Certain Jobs Hazardous to Your Heart Health
Office workers, truckers and police seem to face challenges eating well, staying fit
By Dennis Thompson
TUESDAY, March 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Your day-to-day job could influence your risk of heart disease and stroke, a new study reports.
Middle-aged employees working in sales, office or food service jobs appear to have more risk factors that can harm heart health than people with professional or managerial jobs, according to the researchers.
Police, firefighters, truckers and health care support workers also are more likely to have these risk factors, said lead researcher Capt. Leslie MacDonald, a senior scientist in the U.S. Public Health Service.
People 45 and older employed in sales and office jobs more often smoke, eat an unhealthy diet, are sedentary and suffer from high blood pressure, MacDonald said.
Food service employees ate worse than any other profession, while truckers and other materials transportation workers had the highest smoking rates, the investigators found.
"Those employed among the broad 'service' occupations had a significantly lower prevalence of ideal cholesterol, lower ideal blood pressure, and lower ideal body mass index," MacDonald said. "This poor cardiovascular risk profile was especially pronounced among protective service workers, which includes security guards, police and firefighters."
MacDonald and her colleagues studied health data on over 5,500 men and women aged 45 or older, assessing their heart health based on a set of risk factors called "Life's Simple 7" by the American Heart Association.
The risk factors include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, physical activity, smoking, diet and body mass index (BMI, a ratio based on height and weight).
Overall, more than 88 percent of workers 45 and older did not smoke and 78 percent had ideal blood sugar levels, the researchers found.
Unfortunately, fewer than 41 percent of the workers had "ideal cardiovascular health" in the remaining five measures, and those risk factors appear to vary depending on profession.
More than one of every five transportation workers smoked -- the highest rate among the occupation groups studied.
Two of three sales or office workers had poor eating habits and bad cholesterol levels, and four out of five did not get enough exercise.