By Victoria Allen, Daily Mail science editor
4:30 p.m. September 19, 2023, updated 4:47 p.m. September 19, 2023
- Feeling Undervalued at Work Leads to Higher Blood Pressure, Experts Say
- But researchers didn’t find the same risk in women with stressful jobs
A stressful job in which men are undervalued could double their risk of being diagnosed with coronary heart disease.
One study looked at nearly 6,500 white-collar workers in Canada, including managers, technical staff and clerical workers.
The researchers surveyed them to see if the rewards for their work, like recognition, pay raises and promotions, were less than the effort they put in.
The study also measured “job strain,” which was higher if the job was demanding and if the employee had little control over their tasks.
Men with either condition were nearly 50 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease.
Men with these two occupational problems were twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease when their health was followed for an average of 18 years.
This is the same risk of disease linked to obesity.
Experts say decades of feeling unfamiliar and job stress can raise blood pressure, put strain on the heart or contribute to the hardening of the arteries that causes coronary heart disease.
In the UK, 2.3 million people have coronary heart disease (CHD), which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked by hardened arteries and often causes severe chest pain called angina and shortness of breath .
The study did not find a higher risk of coronary heart disease linked to work stress in women.
What are the symptoms and causes of coronary heart disease?
Coronary artery disease is a term used to describe what happens when the blood supply to the heart is blocked or interrupted by a buildup of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.
Over time, the walls of your arteries can become covered with fatty deposits.
It can be caused by lifestyle factors, such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
It is a major cause of death in the UK.
The main symptoms are:
- Chest pain (angina)
- Shortness of breath
- Pain throughout the body
- Feeling of weakness
- Feeling like vomiting (nausea)
However, this may be because women usually develop this condition later in life, and it is less common for them.
Dr Mathilde Lavigne-Robichaud, who led the study at Laval University in Quebec, said: “Giving people more control over their work, more recognition and a better work-life balance could help to improve men’s heart health.
“More research is needed on the effects of making work less stressful for women, but evidence suggests it would reduce their risk of depressive symptoms.”
“Given the amount of time we all spend at work, these results are extremely important.”
People in the study were considered to have demanding jobs based on questions, including whether they had many responsibilities and tight deadlines.
They lacked control if, for example, they had little say in their professional tasks or decisions, or if their employment was precarious.
People with high demands and a lack of control at work were classified as having high work pressure, putting them at 49 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease, the study suggests.
People answered nine questions about the effort they put into work and nine about job rewards, such as good pay and recognition.
If the efforts outweighed the rewards, they also had a 49% higher risk of coronary heart disease.
This compares to the estimated 42 percent risk of heart disease from high cholesterol and the 35 percent risk from smoking.
This risk is also close to the 52 percent risk linked to a family history of cardiovascular disease.
The study, published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, included 3,118 men without heart disease, of whom 571 developed coronary heart disease during 18 years of follow-up.
It included 3,347 women without heart disease, 265 of whom had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease.
Even accounting for other stressful life events, total hours worked, and health factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, men were more likely to develop heart disease if they were subjected to high levels of stress at work or were not fully rewarded for their efforts. .
Nearly a quarter of people have had one of these work problems.
Previous studies have shown mixed or inconclusive results on how job stress affects heart disease, but researchers suggest they did not examine men and women separately, nor track people’s health on a sufficiently long period.