By Yvette Brazier, MedicalNewsToday.com for SouthFloridaReporter.com, Oct. 15, 2015 – Previous research over the last 2 decades has shown that high-strain jobs increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, regardless of social class. However, until now, the effect of work pressure on stroke has been unclear.
Ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, is caused by blockage of blood flow because of the development of fatty deposits lining the blood vessel walls – a condition known as atherosclerosis.
Researchers from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, analyzed previous studies connecting job stress with stroke.
They classified different jobs into four groups based on how much control workers had over their jobs and how hard they worked, or the psychological demands of the job. The job demands included time pressure, mental load and coordination burdens. Physical labor and total number of hours worked were not included.
The categories used were:
- Passive jobs: low demand and low control, such as janitors, miners and other manual laborers
- Low-stress jobs: low demand and high control, for example, natural scientists and architects
- High-stress jobs: high demand and low control; service industry jobs, such as waitresses and nursing aides
- Active jobs: high demand and high control, including doctors, teachers and engineers.
In the studies reviewed, 11-27% of participants were in high-stress jobs.
Job stress risky, especially for women
The team analyzed all of the available research on job pressure and stroke risk. There were six studies involving a total of 138,782 participants who were followed for between 3 and 17 years.
People with high-stress jobs were found to have a 22% higher risk of any kind of stroke and a 58% greater likelihood of having an ischemic stroke than those with low-stress jobs. Women with high-stress jobs had a 33% higher risk of stroke than women with low-stress jobs.
People in passive and active jobs did not have any increased risk of stroke.
The researchers calculated that 4.4% of the stroke risk was due to the high-stress jobs. For women, that number increased to 6.5%.