Work stress can double men’s risk of heart disease, study shows

Work-related stress is bad for more than just your mental health, especially if you’re a man. While research has long shown that workload can affect workers’ mental and physical well-being, a new study shows that it actually increases men’s risk of heart disease.

Job stressors, including heavy workloads, tight deadlines, and environments that remove autonomy from workers, constitute a job strain severe enough to harm workers’ heart health.

Putting effort into a job where you don’t feel like you’re being adequately rewarded, a predicament referred to as “effort-reward imbalance,” also has serious negative effects on heart health.

“Imbalance between effort and reward occurs when employees invest a lot of effort in their work, but they perceive the rewards they receive in return – such as salary, recognition or job security – as insufficient or unequal in relation to the effort,” lead study author Mathilde Lavigne -Robichaud , a doctoral candidate in population health at the CHU de Quebec-University Laval Research Center, said in a statement.

Male workers who experienced either workload or an imbalance between effort and reward were 49% more likely to develop heart disease compared to men without these stressors. examination published Tuesday in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, found.

Men in both job problems had twice the risk of heart disease compared to men who did not experience the two stressors at the same time.

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Job stress can be compared to obesity

The negative health effects of workload, combined with an imbalance between effort and reward in the workplace, roughly match the effects of obesity on the risk of coronary heart disease, researchers found.

“Given the significant amount of time people spend at work, understanding the relationship between occupational stressors and cardiovascular health is critical to public health and workforce well-being,” Lavigne-Robichaud said. “Our study highlights the urgent need to proactively address stressful work conditions, to create healthier work environments that benefit employees and employers.”

The study is one of the few that examines the compounding effects of workload combined with other undesirable job characteristics such as low pay or little or no 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 followed more than 6,400 white-collar workers in Canada without cardiovascular disease with an average age of 45 between 2000 and 2018. They measured levels of workload and imbalance between effort and reward in relation to the incidence of heart disease. Results among women were inconclusive, the study found.

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