High stress jobs linked to increased stroke risk

Employees with high stress jobs are more likely to have an ischemic stroke.
Employees with high stress jobs are more likely to have an ischemic stroke.

High stress jobs are associated with a higher risk of stroke, according to a meta-analysis published October 14 online ahead of print in Neurology.

Researchers reviewed six studies with a total of nearly 140,000 participants who were followed for 3 to 17 years. Jobs were classified into four groups based on worker control regarding daily tasks and how hard they worked, as well as on the psychological demands of the job: passive jobs, low stress jobs, high stress jobs, and active jobs. Across all six studies, total participants with high stress jobs ranged from 11% to 27%.

People who had high stress jobs had a 22% higher risk of stroke compared with those with low stress jobs; women with high stress jobs had a 33% higher stroke risk. All participants with high stress jobs were 58% more likely to have an ischemic stroke. Participants with either passive or active jobs had no increased risk of stroke.

“Workplace changes could have a major public health impact,” wrote Jennifer J. Majersik, MD, MS, of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, in a corresponding editorial. Dr. Majersik suggests interventions aimed at increasing job control and flexibility in job structure, such as telecommuting. 

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