Work stress ‘increases under-50s heart risk’

Under pressure at work? It could increase your risk of heart disease

Stressed-out workers under 50 are two-thirds more likely to suffer from heart disease, a study has revealed today.

Employees with pressurised work demands and little or no control over decisions

that affect their professional lives were found to be 68% more likely to suffer from heart disease than those in easier jobs.

A research team at University College London monitored more than 10,000 civil servants over 12 years and found that the hearts of those under pressure became less able to change the rate at which they beat in response to stress over time.

They also found that stressful work demands resulted in generally unhealthy lifestyle – smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise – which are all linked to increased danger of heart disease.

Dr Tarani Chandola, a senior lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL who led the study, said: ‘This is the first large study of people in everyday working life, rather than just of chronic burnt-out patients, showing that those who report more stress are also more likely to have certain biological stress responses.’

He added that during 12 years of follow-up the researchers ‘found that chronic work stress was associated with coronary heart disease and this association was stronger among both men and women aged under 50 – their risk of coronary heart disease was an average of 68 per cent more than for people who reported no stress at work’.

The best way to combat it? Good old exercise. June Davison, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Keeping fit and active also helps to relieve stress and therefore reduce the risk of heart disease.’

Reading now

Popular