Job Stress Tied to Stroke Risk, Study Suggests
Those with demanding jobs and little control seem most vulnerable, researchers found
By Steven Reinberg
WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Having a high-stress job, particularly one that is demanding but offers little personal control, may raise the risk for a stroke, Chinese researchers report.
An analysis of six previously published studies from several countries included nearly 140,000 people who were followed for up to 17 years. It found those with high-stress jobs had a 22 percent higher risk of stroke than those with low-stress jobs. Among women, the increased risk was even higher -- 33 percent, the researchers reported.
"Many mechanisms may be involved in the association between high-stress jobs and the risk of stroke," said lead researcher Dr. Yuli Huang, from the department of cardiology at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou.
Most important, high-stress jobs may lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as poor eating habits, smoking and a lack of exercise, Huang said.
"It is vital for people with high-stress occupations to address these lifestyle issues," said Huang.
The report was published online Oct. 14 in the journal Neurology.
The studies that Huang's team analyzed included one in the United States, three in Sweden, one in Japan and one in Finland.
Huang and colleagues grouped jobs into four categories based on how much control workers had over their job and how hard they worked or the psychological demands of the job. The categories included passive jobs, low-stress jobs, high-stress jobs and active jobs.
Job factors included time pressure, mental demands and coordination burdens. Physical labor and total number of hours worked were not included.
Those with passive jobs included janitors, miners and other manual laborers, who had little demand and little control. Low-stress jobs included scientists and architects, who had low demand and high control, according to the study.
High-stress jobs, which have high demand and low control, included waitresses, nursing aides and other service industry workers. People with active jobs, like doctors, teachers and engineers, had high demand and high control, the researchers said.
People in high-stress jobs were 58 percent more likely to have a stroke caused by a blood clot in the brain -- an ischemic stroke -- than those with low-stress jobs. Those with passive and active jobs did not have any increased risk of stroke, Huang said.