Work Stress Raises Stroke Risk for Women
There’s more evidence of the potential consequences of too much stress at work, particularly for women.
A new study, published in the journal Neurology, found that more stressful jobs, such as being a waitress or a nurse, create a higher risk of stroke.
Researchers from Southern Medical University in China analyzed six studies related to job pressure and stroke involving 138,782 participants who were followed for between three and 17 years.
The researchers divided different professions into four groups, based on how much control workers had over their jobs and how hard they worked, as well as the psychological demands of the job. Other job demands taken into consideration were deadline pressure, mental load and coordination burdens. Physicality of labor and total work hours weren’t considered.
The four job categories were:
•Passive jobs: low demand and low control such as janitors, miners, and other manual laborers.
•Low-stress jobs: low demand and high control such as natural scientists and architects.
•High-stress jobs: high demand and low control such as service industry jobs like waitresses and nursing aides.
•Active jobs: high demand and high control including doctors, teachers and engineers.
The findings showed that people with high-stress jobs had a 22 percent higher risk of any kind of stroke and a 58 percent increased risk of having an ischemic stroke than those with low-stress jobs. Women with high stress jobs had a 33 percent higher risk of stroke than women with low-stress jobs.
People in passive and active jobs did not have an increased stroke risk.
The researchers estimated that for men, 4.4 percent of the stroke risk was tied to the high-stress job and for women the risk was 6.5 percent job related.
Future research will look at the potential of increasing job control, such as increasing flexibility in job structure through such practices as telecommuting and flexible hours.