Prevention & Recovery

Is job stress increasing your stroke risk?

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Prevention & Recovery

Is job stress increasing your stroke risk?

Do you worry about what having a stressful career is doing to your health? Depending on what kind of stress you’re facing, as a woman you could have a 33 percent increased risk of stroke compared to those in low-stress jobs, according to a new study out of the University of Utah. For men, the increased risk is 22 percent.

A stroke is a serious brain injury caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain, causing brains cells to die, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

It seems that strokes are more likely among those experiencing a particular kind of job stress. When the researchers looked at 130,000 medical patients, they found that the kind of job that blends high demands with little control over scheduling or decision-making are the worst for your health. These "high strain" jobs, as they’re called in research circles, tend to be found in the service industry and include jobs such as nursing aides and wait staff.

Jobs that mix high demands with a high level of control, including physicians and teachers, were not linked with a higher risk of stroke.

The stress link
The exact link between stress and stroke isn’t yet well understood, but the authors hypothesize that stress hormones may lead to physical changes or abnormal heart rhythms that contribute to strokes. Stressful jobs may also lead to poor diet and exercise habits.

Since strokes can be very damaging—impacting the ability to move, remember, speak, reason, read and write—the researchers suggest workplace changes may be called for to reduce the risks. Doctor and study author Jennifer Majersik says it’s possible that increasing job control via telecommuting, flexible work hours and less top-down decision making could make a major difference.

For now, the researchers remind us that some of the other well-known ways to prevent strokes include: controlling your blood pressure, eating well and exercising. They also reminded the public about stroke symptoms, which include numbness on one side of the body, and the loss of speech or movement. For women, other signs of stroke have been recently identified, such as hiccups paired with chest pain.

Find out what you need to know in the event of a stroke and how to reduce your stress at work.
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Is job stress increasing your stroke risk?

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