Work stress linked to higher risk of heart disease

6 Jun 2019 By Maggie Baska

A study found stress and impaired sleep increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially among those with pre-existing conditions

Job stress and impaired sleep are linked to a threefold risk of cardiovascular death in employees with high blood pressure (hypertension).

Research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology examined the combined effects of workplace stress and impaired sleep on employees with high blood pressure who died from cardiovascular disease.  

Previous research showed that psychosocial factors like mental ill-health and stress have a more detrimental effect on people with pre-existing heart conditions than on healthy individuals. 

Karl-Heinz Ladwig, the study’s author and professor at the Technical University of Munich, said settling down for the night should be a time for recreation and restoring energy levels. “If you have stress at work, sleep helps you recover,” Ladwig said. “However, poor sleep and job stress often go hand in hand.”

The study included 1,959 workers aged 25 to 65 with high blood pressure, without cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Compared to employees with no job stress and good sleep, hypertensive people with both risk factors were three times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. The risk among employees with high blood pressure who experienced only workplace stress was 1.6 times higher, while for those with only impaired sleep, it was 1.8 times higher. 

Ladwig said employers should offer stress management and relaxation techniques for staff with conditions like high blood pressure.

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