Stress Really CAN Kill You

You've got that deadline glaring down your neck.  Your boss keeps looking over at you.  You're late to pick your kid up from soccer.  And who knows what's going to happen for dinner?

We've all been there.  Workplace stress is a killer.  And now it might literally be, too.  Did you know work stress can cause a stroke?

According to an analysis of studies, having a high-stress job may be linked to a higher risk of stroke.

"Having a lot of job stress has been linked to heart disease, but studies on job stress and stroke have shown inconsistent results,” says Dingli Xu, MD, with Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, at “It’s possible that high-stress jobs lead to more unhealthy behaviors, such as poor eating habits, smoking and a lack of exercise.”

The analysis looked at all of the available research on job strain and stroke risk. The six studies analyzed involved a total of 138,782 participants who were followed for three to 17 years.
Passive jobs were those with low demand and low control. Examples include janitors, miners and other manual laborers. Low-stress jobs are those with low demand and high control. Examples are natural scientists and architects. High-stress jobs, which are high-demand and low control, are found in the service industry and include waitresses and nursing aides. Active jobs with high demand and high control include doctors, teachers and engineers. In the six studies, the percentage of those with high stress jobs ranged from 11 percent to 27 percent of participants.

Not surprisingly, the analysis found that people with high stress jobs had a 22 percent higher risk of stroke than those with low-stress jobs. Women with high stress jobs had a 33 percent higher risk of stroke than women with low stress jobs. People with high stress jobs were 58 percent more likely to have an ischemic stroke than those with low stress jobs. Ischemic stroke, which is the most common type of stroke, is caused by blockage of blood flow. People in passive and active jobs did not have any increased risk of stroke.

But what about people who have high-stress jobs and feel even more stress because they hate it?  That would be my husband, a dentist.

Unfortunately, the studies didn't cover that.

The researchers calculated that 4.4 percent of the stroke risk was due to the high-stress jobs. For women, that number increased to 6.5 percent.  It may not sound like much but that's thousands of people.

So, what to do?  Take deep breaths.  Put a calming picture above your desk.  And every half hour or so, get up and walk around the office.  (That will also lower your risk of dying from sitting too much, another study!)


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