Researchers from Harvard Medical school in Boston analysed the records of over 17,400 women in their 50s and 60s, all of whom provided information about their work strains and any job insecurities they had.
What the researchers found was that women who described their roles as ‘highly stressful’ with little opportunity to use any of their creative skills, were 40 per cent more likely to develop heart disease, 43 per cent more likely to need heart surgery and a staggering 88 per cent more likely to have a heart attack than those in a relaxed role.
Additional findings included the discovery that women who were concerned about losing their job were far more at risk of being overweight and having both high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Head researcher of the study Dr Michelle Albert believes that an element of stress actually plays a positive role in our working lives, but believes we need to learn how to manage the negative aspects more effectively.
Dr Albert recommends that doctors make more of an effort to ask their female patients about their work pressures and suggests that women with high pressure jobs take precautions to protect both their physical and mental wellbeing by regularly exercising, leaving work at work and having a good support network of friends and family.
Researcher Dr Peter Kaufmann from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Maryland, said ‘This new data is among the most important to emerge in recent years concerning the relationship between job strain and cardiovascular health.’
If you are struggling to cope with the demands of your current job role and are considering either a change in direction or would be interested in learning ways to manage your job stresses, please visit our career counselling and stress counselling fact-sheets for information about how counselling may be able to help you. Alternatively, to contact a counseller in your local area to discuss this matter directly, please use the search tool located on the homepage to locate a qualified professional in your local area.