Underappreciated And Overstressed: Men Who Work In Stressful Jobs Are Likely To Develop Heart Disease, Says New Study

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Undervalued men who work in stressful jobs, may face a significantly higher risk of developing life-threatening heart disease, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Canadian researchers conducted this ambitious study spanning nearly two decades, investigating the impact of stress and “effort-reward imbalance” (ERI) on coronary health.

Men Who Work In Stressful Jobs Are Likely To Develop Heart Disease

The study reveals that men grappling with either stress or ERI individually faced a 49% increased risk of heart disease compared to their less-stressed counterparts. Alarmingly, those who experienced both stress and ERI concurrently were found to be twice as likely to develop heart disease, highlighting the compounding effect of these factors.

Mathilde Lavigne-Robichaud, the lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate at the Population Health and Optimal Health Practices Research Unit in Quebec, Canada, defines job strain as the combination of high job demands and low control over one’s work environment. ERI, on the other hand, arises when employees invest significant effort into their work but perceive the rewards—such as salary, recognition, or job security—as inadequate or disproportionate to their exertion.

Heart disease, characterized by reduced blood flow to the heart, can lead to potentially fatal heart attacks, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2021, heart disease claimed the lives of approximately 695,000 individuals in the United States, accounting for 1 in every 5 deaths.

To conduct this extensive study, researchers monitored 6,465 white-collar workers, both men and women, over an 18-year period (2000-2018), all of whom were initially free from cardiovascular disease. Among these participants, 3,118 were men, and 3,347 were women, with an average age of 45. Validated questionnaires were employed to assess stress and ERI levels.

The study’s findings underscore the critical need to address stressful work conditions proactively, fostering healthier work environments that benefit both employees and employers, according to Lavigne-Robichaud. Nevertheless, while the study included both men and women, it did not establish a direct link between heart health and these stressors among female participants. Researchers also acknowledged a limitation in their data, as it was collected in Canada and may not fully represent the diversity of the U.S. working population.

In conclusion, this study emphasizes the potential link between workplace stressors and cardiovascular health, particularly in men. Additionally, it highlights the need for further research into the intricate interplay of various stressors in women’s heart health.

These findings coincide with recent developments in the field of heart disease prevention, such as Novo Nordisk’s obesity drug, Wegovy, which has shown promising cardiovascular benefits in clinical trials.

Patients taking the drug experienced a 20% lower incidence of heart attacks, strokes, or heart disease-related deaths compared to those on a placebo.


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