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.