Apr 232008

The combination of heavy work pressure and high authority may take a toll on some women’s heart health. Researchers from Chile, conducted a study of more than 3,000adults ages 18 to 77 found that over 10 years, women in demanding jobs with high levels of autonomy or authority had an increased risk of developing heart disease, BBC radio reported.

The same was not true of men. Highly demanding work in and of itself was not related to heart disease risk in either women or men. Instead, other features of work life including authority over decision-making for women, and occupational prestige for men did seem to make a difference in heart health.

One standard definition of high job strain used for years in research is that workers deal with high demands but have little control over their work or leeway for creativity. But in the current study, high job strain defined in this way was not related to the risk of heart disease or death in either men or women. On the other hand and contrary to the expectations, heart disease risk was elevated among women deemed to be under active job strain, meaning their work demands were high, but they were in positions of authority, making decisions and controlling how they worked.

These women were nearly three times as likely to develop heart disease during the study period as women with high work demands and little autonomy. The study suggests that work strain, when defined as high demand or low authority, is not a risk factor for heart disease for either men or women. The findings show that some forms of job stress for women may well be risk factors. For men in the study, higher income and higher job prestige were related to a lower risk of heart disease and death. Men who worked as labourers or operators had the highest rates of heart disease and death, while those in professional or managerial positions had the lowest.

But job strain whether in an occupation with high authority or one with little autonomy was not related to heart disease or death among men. The various relationships between job characteristics and heart disease remained after the researching team accounted for factors such as age, smoking and high blood pressure.

Exactly why active job strain might be a heart risk for women is unclear, but they speculate that societal factors are at work. The shift in social roles is a very likely explanation of the findings.
Courtesy: The News

 Posted by at 7:24 am

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