October 22, 2014
Coping with Job Stress and Heart Disease
Everyone knows that job stress has an obvious negative implication on health, specifically, the cardiovascular system. While various studies have been conducted and validated to establish that job strain increases the risk of a first coronary heart disease, little was known about the connection between stressful jobs and recurrent coronary heart disease.
Recently, however, scientists have decided to bring their research to the next level by studying nearly a thousand men and women who returned to work after having a heart attack. Observations were made for the first six weeks after their return to their jobs, and the again two years later. Early findings show that the people who return to a chronically stressful job after a heart attack are twice as likely to experience another heart attack than those with stress-free jobs. Job strain, as specifically defined by researchers, involves high psychological demands with low decision control. If the stress of the job doesn’t change upon return to work, there is a much higher risk of having another heart attack or developing angina and coronary heart disease.
A heart attack occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the heart becomes blocked. Due to the lack of blood flow, it results in a permanent damage to the heart. Blood vessels are blocked by advancing atherosclerotic plaque lesions, a sudden formation of a blood clot, or from the spasming of a coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart.
Many people have the notion that a heart attack is caused by a slow, progressive build-up of plaque. To think that a blood vessel takes a lifetime to become completely clogged is simply not true for most cases of heart attacks. When an unstable, atherosclerotic plaque lesion, filled with cholesterol and fat, suddenly breaks apart, thus forming an open wound within the artery wall, a heart attack occurs. Blood platelets and clotting proteins rush to the wound and form a clot, called a thrombus. In a matter of moments, the clot can enlarge and may cause obstruction of blood flow to the heart with resultant angina (chest pain). If the blood flow becomes completely obstructed, a heart attack ensues.
In addition to the evidence linking workplace stress and heart disease was another study on the occurrence of cardiac events and heart attacks on Monday than any other day of the week. A study carried out by Japan’s Tokyo Women’s Medical University and published in the American Journal of Hypertension showed that many workers suffer a significant increase in blood pressure as they return to the office after the weekend.
High blood pressure is associated with a greater risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke, and the results could help to explain why there are more heart attacks on Mondays than at any other time of the week.
While workplace stress can have a negative impact on your health, marriage, on the other hand, can be good for your health. However, it is important to be more specific as a bad marriage can increase the risk of heart disease as compared with married couples who are having great relationships.