Researchers have determined work related stress to be a significant, independent risk factor leading to the development of heart disease.
Heart disease is a largely preventable chronic illness that is the leading killer of men, women and children in many western societies. Researchers and alternative medical experts have identified a long list of dietary and lifestyle factors that work together to promote development of the disease and validate lifestyle modifications that reverse vascular dysfunction and dramatically lower the risk of succumbing to heart disease.
Over the past decade it has become increasingly clear that the biochemical effects of systematic stress dramatically increase the risk of heart disease, and work related stress is a leading source of anxiety and tension that fuel disease progression. A team of scientists have published the result of meta-analysis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that explains how people with job stress and an unhealthy lifestyle are at higher risk of coronary artery disease than people who have job stress but lead healthy lifestyles.
To determine the effect of stress on the development of heart disease, the team analyzed seven large European cohort studies that looked at more than 102,000 disease-free workers over a 15-year period. Participants ranged in age from 17 to 70 years where more than half were women, a group frequently misdiagnosed with heart disease.
Stress is a significant, independent risk factor leading to the development of heart disease
Sixteen percent of the participants reported job stress as determined from specific job-related questions across all studies reviewed. The investigators defined four lifestyle categories based on smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and obesity. Those considered to have a healthy lifestyle had no stress-related factors. A moderately unhealthful lifestyle included one negative factor and an unhealthy lifestyle included two to four negative factors.
The researchers determined that the incidence of coronary artery disease over a 10-year period was 18.4 per 1000 for those with the highest reported level of work related stress, and 30.6 per 1000 for individuals with an unhealthy lifestyle. The incidence rate was 31.2 per 1000 for participants with job strain and an unhealthy lifestyle but only 14.7 for those with job strain and a healthy lifestyle, indicating a doubling of cardiovascular disease risk.
Study authors concluded “These observational data suggest that a healthy lifestyle could substantially reduce the risk of coronary artery disease risk among people with job strain…clinicians might consider paying closer attention to lifestyle risk factors in patients who report job strain.” Stress reduction is a key factor to lower the risk of developing heart disease, especially when coupled with critical lifestyle and dietary modifications.