Work-Related Stress Boosts Heart Risk in Men

Work-related stress is more than just a mental health concern, especially for men. While it’s long been known that job strain impacts workers’ psychological and physical well-being, a new study reveals it significantly heightens men’s risk for heart disease.

Job stressors, such as heavy workloads, tight deadlines, and environments that strip autonomy from workers, create a level of job strain potent enough to impact heart health.

Being in a job where the effort doesn’t match the perceived rewards, a situation termed “effort-reward imbalance,” also has profound negative effects on heart health.

Work Stress Doubles Heart Disease Risk in Men

“Effort-reward imbalance occurs when employees invest high effort into their work, but they perceive the rewards they receive in return — such as salary, recognition or job security — as insufficient or unequal to the effort,” said lead study author Mathilde Lavigne-Robichaud, a doctoral candidate in population health at CHU de Quebec-University Laval Research Center.

Male workers experiencing either job strain or effort-reward imbalance were 49% more likely to have heart disease than men without these stressors, according to the study published Tuesday in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Men facing both job challenges were twice as likely to suffer from heart disease compared to those not experiencing the two stressors concurrently.

Job Stress on Par with Obesity

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The health repercussions of job strain combined with effort-reward imbalance are roughly equivalent to the impact of obesity on coronary heart disease risk, the researchers found.

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“Considering the significant amount of time people spend at work, understanding the relationship between work stressors and cardiovascular health is crucial for public health and workforce well-being,” Lavigne-Robichaud stated. “Our study underscores the urgent need to proactively address stressful working conditions and foster healthier work environments that benefit both employees and employers.”

This study is among the few that delve into the compounded effects of job strain alongside other undesirable job attributes like low pay or minimal flexibility.

“Job strain refers to work environments where employees face a combination of high job demands and low control over their work,” she added.

Researchers tracked over 6,400 white-collar workers in Canada without cardiovascular disease, averaging 45 years old, from 2000 to 2018. They gauged levels of job strain and effort-reward imbalance against the incidence of heart disease. The study found inconclusive results among women.

With information from CBS News

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