Stress At Work And Unhealthy Lifestyle Raise Coronary Artery Disease Risk
May 14, 2013

Job Stress Combined With Bad Health Habits Lead To Elevated Coronary Artery Disease Risk

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

People with job-related stress who lead unhealthy lifestyles are at nearly double the risk of coronary artery disease compared with people who have work-related stress but lead otherwise healthy lifestyles, according to new research published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

British researchers looked at seven cohort studies from a large European initiative that included more than 100,000 people who were disease-free during the 15-year study period (1985-2000).

Participants, who ranged in age from 17-70 years, were from the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Sweden and Finland. More than half, or 52 percent, were women.

Of the total participants, 16 percent reported work-related stress, which was determined from specific questions used in the studies.

The investigators defined three lifestyle categories based on smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity/inactivity and obesity — a "healthy lifestyle” that included no lifestyle risk factors, a "moderately unhealthy lifestyle" that had one risk factor, and an "unhealthy lifestyle" that included between two and four lifestyle risk factors.

A total of 1,086 participants had incident events of coronary artery disease events during the follow-up period. The 10-year incidence of coronary artery disease was 18.4 per 1000 people for people with job strain and 14.7 for those without job strain.

People with an unhealthy lifestyle had a significantly higher 10-year incidence rate (30.6 per 1,000) compared with participants with a healthy lifestyle (12.0 per 1000).

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.

"The risk of coronary artery disease was highest among participants who reported job strain and an unhealthy lifestyle; those with job strain and a healthy lifestyle had about half the rate of this disease," said the study´s lead author, Dr. Mika Kivimäki at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London (UCL).

"These observational data suggest that a healthy lifestyle could substantially reduce the risk of coronary artery disease risk among people with job strain."

Evidence from randomized controlled trials has shown that lifestyle changes such as weight loss and smoking cessation can reduce the risk of disease.

"In addition to stress counseling, clinicians might consider paying closer attention to lifestyle risk factors in patients who report job strain," the researchers advised.