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Stressful Jobs Linked With Increased Stroke Risk

Stressful jobs could be linked to an increased risk of having a stroke, says a meta-analysis published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.


Previous researches attempting to find an association between job stress and stroke risk have unfortunately not brought forth clear conclusions. The new study, on the other hand, shows that high-stress jobs might be linked to unhealthy habits.

“Having a lot of job stress has been linked to heart disease, but studies on job stress and stroke have shown inconsistent results,” said Dingli Xu, MD, with Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China. “It’s possible that high stress jobs lead to more unhealthy behaviors, such as poor eating habits, smoking and a lack of exercise.”

The meta-analysis

Xu and his team evaluated data from all studies dealing with job strain and stroke risk; a total of 138,782 participants were involved.

Jobs were categorised into 4 groups – passive, low-stress, high-stress, and active – based on how psychologically demanding they were, how much control the employees had over their jobs, and how hard they worked. Physical burdens were not taken into consideration.

4 groups of jobs

Find below a summary of the description of each category:

  • Passive jobs: low demand and low control, including janitors, and other manual workers.
  • Low stress jobs: low demand and high control, including natural scientists and architects.
  • High stress jobs: high demand and low control, including waitresses and nursing aides.
  • Active jobs: high demand and high control, including doctors, teachers and engineers.

High-stress jobs linked with increased stroke risk, specially for women

The findings show that people with passive and active jobs were shown to have no increased stroke risk.

Participants with high-stress jobs had a 22 % greater risk of stroke than those with low-stress jobs.

Women with high-stress jobs had a 33 % greater risk than those with low-stress jobs.

High-stress-job employees had a 58 % higher risk of having an ischemic stroke than those with low stress jobs.

Also, high-stress jobs accounted for 4.4 % of the stroke risk; for women, the figure is 6.5 %.


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