A new study, published in medical journal The Lancet, has found that having a stressful job with little control over your working day increases your risk of having a heart attack by nearly a quarter, compared with a less demanding job.
The risk was further increased in stressful jobs that were highly paid, versus lower paid and/or less stressful jobs.
Importantly, the differences in risk caused by the type of employment were independent of differences in other cardiovascular risk factors, including age, gender and health lifestyle, suggesting that even those who eat well, exercise regularly and do not smoke are still at a relatively higher risk by being in a stressful job.
The research, lead by Professor Mika Kivimäki from University College London, analysed results from 13 studies in seven countries, where the health of nearly 200,000 people was tracked.
Professor Kivimäki said: “Our findings indicate that job strain is associated with a small, but consistent, increased risk of experiencing a first coronary heart disease event such as a heart attack.”
The authors of the study concluded: “Our findings suggest that prevention of workplace stress might decrease disease incidence; however, this strategy would have a much smaller effect than would tackling of standard risk factors, such as smoking.”
In line with these conclusions, Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), stated: “Though stresses at work may be unavoidable, how you deal with these pressures is important, and lighting up a cigarette is bad news for your heart.
“Eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise and quitting smoking will more than offset any risk associated with your job.”