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Stressful Jobs Can Lead To Strokes

High Stress Job

People with high stress jobs are 22 percent more likely to have a stroke than those who work in low stress jobs, according to a new study.

According to study co-author Dr. Dingli Xu with the Southern Medical University, the studies they reviewed previously showed that “a lot of job stress” to be “linked to heart disease, but studies on job stress and stroke have shown inconsistent results” — until now.

In the study, which was published in the journal Neurology, researchers from the the Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China analyzed prior research into the link between job stress and stroke.

Between the six previous studies analyzed, which offered conflicting results in the past, the researchers had data on over 138,000 participants — participants who had been followed for spans of time ranging from from 3 to 17 years.

For women, the researchers noted an overall increase in susceptibility to stroke. Women in high stress jobs saw a 33 percent increase in stroke risk over those in low stress occupations.

In the study, different jobs were categorized based on not only how demanding they are, but also how much control the workers have over their job. The four job categories defined in the study were low stress, high stress, active and passive.

  • Low stress jobs: Low demand, high control – Includes architects, natural scientists
  • Passive jobs: Low demand, low control – Includes janitors, miners and other manual laborers.
  • Active jobs: High demand, high contol – Includes doctors, teachers and engineers.
  • High stress jobs: High Demand, low control – Includes waitresses, nursing aides and other service industry jobs.

Anywhere between 11 and 12 percent of those reviewed in the studies were found to work in high stress jobs.

In addition to a higher overall stroke risk for those in high risk jobs, the researchers found that those with stressful jobs were 58 percent more likely to experience an ischemic stroke.

As for those with passive and active jobs, the researchers noted no increased risk of stroke.

Having a lot of job stress has been linked to heart disease, but studies on job stress and stroke have shown inconsistent results. It’s possible that high-stress jobs lead to more unhealthy behaviors, such as poor eating habits, smoking and a lack of exercise.

Dr. Jennifer Majersik, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Utah School of Medicine who wrote an editorial accompanying the study in the journal Neurology, was quoted by CBS News as having said that the study “is very interesting” to her “because it builds in prior studies showing a lot of different kinds of stress cause cardiovascular disease, and now we can see that work stress in particular may be causing an increase in ischemic stroke and that causes a big public health concern.”

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