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Job Killing You? Stroke Risk Higher In High-Stress Environments

First Posted: Oct 16, 2015 06:25 PM EDT
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Under an excess amount of stress at work? New findings published in the journal Neurology reveal that high-stress jobs may increase stroke risk, particularly in women. 

Study results revealed that those who worked under incredibly stressful situations were at a 22 percent increased risk of stroke when compared to those who felt more at ease at their job. Women were also at a higher risk of having a stroke from stressful working conditions with a 33 percent chance, when compared to men.

During the study, researchers analyzed six previous studies from the United States, Finland, Japan and Sweden. The information included 140,000 respondents who were monitored for over 17 years.

Each of the studies also included a baseline assessment of people's job strain, while researchers put jobs into four categories based on pressure, mental demands and involvement with coworkers: passive jobs included janitorial or manual work, according to study authors, those with few restrictions included architects or freelancers, active jobs (such as doctor, researcher or teacher) and high-stress jobs, which included waiters and nurses, among others. But why exactly might someone in a stressful work environment be at increased risk?

Researchers believe that stressed-out employees are more likely to fall into unhealthy habits when compared to those in low-stress situations--with a 58 percent higher stroke risk for those in the high-stress category. These individuals may be more likely to smoke, drink too much alcohol, have poor sleep habits and/or an unhealthy diet. 

The study authors hope that this prompts future research on the medical aspects of stress in the workplace, so stroke risk can be prevented. However, more research will also be needed to determine if work interventions that help reduce work stress could actually lower stroke risk. 

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