By John Salak –
The work environment can create a lot of stress, which is never good for anyone. However, men in stressful jobs who feel they are underappreciated or not adequately rewarded could be at risk for some serious heart problems.
Heart disease is already the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing almost 400,000 men each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This amounts to one in every four male deaths annually. There are a lot of factors involved in contracting heart disease and certainly stress is among the major factors.
The American Heart Association, however, now reports that men stressed out who believe they are underappreciated have double the risk of heart disease as men who aren’t under the same pressure.
“Considering the significant amount of time people spend at work, understanding the relationship between work stressors and cardiovascular health is crucial for public health and workforce well-being,” said lead study author Mathilde Lavigne-Robichaud, a doctoral candidate at CHU de Quebec-University. “Our study highlights the pressing need to proactively address stressful working conditions, to create healthier work environments that benefit employees and employers.”
Research has already shown that two psychosocial stressors—job strain and effort-reward imbalance at work—may increase heart disease risk. However, few studies have examined the combined effect. The association’s research sought to identify the combined impact.
“Job strain refers to work environments where employees face a combination of high job demands and low control over their work. High demands can include a heavy workload, tight deadlines and numerous responsibilities, while low control means the employee has little say in decision-making and how they perform their tasks,” Lavigne-Robichaud explained.
“Effort-reward imbalance occurs when employees invest high effort into their work, but they perceive the rewards they receive in return—such as salary, recognition or job security—as insufficient or unequal to the effort,” he added. “For instance, if you’re always going above and beyond, but you feel like you’re not getting the credit or rewards you deserve, that’s called effort-reward imbalance.”
The research focused on almost 6,500 white-collar workers with an average age of about 45 years old. None had heart disease. The participants included 3,118 men and 3,347 women, all of whom were followed during an 18-year period from 2000 to 2018.
The result found that men who experienced either job strain or effort-reward imbalance had a 49 percent increase in risk of heart disease compared to men who didn’t report these stressors. Men claiming both job strain and effort-reward imbalance were at twice the risk of heart disease, which is similar to the impact obesity has on coronary heart disease.
In comparison, the researchers reported that the impact of these factors on the heart health of women was inconclusive.
“Our results suggest that interventions aimed at reducing stressors from the work environment could be particularly effective for men and could also have positive implications for women, as these stress factors are associated with other prevalent health issues such as depression,” Lavigne-Robichaud said. “The study’s inability to establish a direct link between psychosocial job stressors and coronary heart disease in women signals the need for further investigation into the complex interplay of various stressors and women’s heart health.”