Heart disease and stroke risk is dictated by profession in older workers, according to new findings. The study uncovered that those workers over the age of 45 in sales, office support, or other service occupations have more risk factors for heart disease and stroke, compared to workers in management and professional jobs.
Overall, over 88 percent of workers over the age of 45 did not smoke and 78 percent had elevated glucose levels. Less than 41 percent of workers had ideal heart health in five other measurements. The study included 5,566 workers with no history of heart disease or stroke.
The researchers have come to the following findings based on the different occupations of the participants.
Transportation/material moving workers: twenty-two percent were smokers and had the highest smoking rate compared to other occupations.
Sales, office, and administrative support employees: sixty-eight percent had poor eating habits, 69 percent of sales employees did not have ideal cholesterol, 82 percent of office administration had less than ideal physical fitness.
Food preparation and serving employees: the worst eating and diet was seen in this category.
Protective service workers: ninety percent of police and firefighters were likely to be overweight or obese, 77 percent did not have ideal cholesterol, and 35 percent had hypertension.
Management/professionals: these individuals had the best cardiovascular health, but white-collar professionals in business and finance had poor eating habits.
The researchers examined seven modifiable risk factors from the American Heart Association, ranking the health of study participants as either ideal, intermediate, or poor. A ranking of ideal health was given in cases where, without medicines, blood pressure readings were below 120/80 mm Hg, total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL, and/or blood glucose lower than 100 mg/dL while fasting or 140 mg/dL without fasting. Besides non-smoking status, a body mass index (BMI) below 25 and engaging in intense, break-a-sweat activity at least four times a week, including at work, were also deemed ideal.
Lead researcher and senior scientist, Captain Leslie MacDonald said, “The lower the number of ideal cardiovascular risk factors, the easier it becomes to predict their future health ills, including premature death, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.”
Ideal diet was found to be the deciding factor in any of the groups achieving ideal level – and, in fact, none of them did.
There are many reasons as to why occupation plays a role on cardiovascular health, including long working hours, demanding jobs that make exercise difficult and make it harder to prepare healthy food. Job stress can have poor effects on overall health, too
Macdonald added, “It’s important to take small steps and not get overwhelmed or discouraged.” Small steps like going to a walk on your lunch break and packing your own lunch as opposed to buying it all the time can work greatly in improving cardiovascular health.
Tips to reduce job stress and heart disease risk
Many occupational factors that contribute to poor cardiovascular health are easily modifiable, meaning you don’t have to succumb to them and let your heart suffer. Here are some tips in order to reduce job stress and improve your risk of heart disease in turn:
Speak up about any concerns or anxiety you have about your job – talking to someone may help rectify any issues you are having, or maybe your company has a wellness program that can help you cope with stress.
Find effective relaxation options – fun things to do when you’re away from work. Pick up a hobby, start exercising, connect with others, whatever it takes to take your mind off work and wind down so you reduce stress.