February is American Heart Month bringing into focus all things about heart disease. One question I have not heard answered is "Can my job stress cause me to have a heart attack?" The short answer is "Yes". Surprised? Let's take a quick look at why that is. This question of is stress at work was explored in February's edition of Wellness Wednesday Getting Healthier Every Week where experts weighed in about job stress and health.
WebMD published Is Your Job Wrecking Your Heart? How job stress may affect your heart's health, and what you can do about it where they reported since the U.S. unemployment rate high, most people today are happy just to have a job and a regular paycheck. Add to this the 2013 State of the American Workplace Report who estimates 70% of Americans are disinterested and unhappy at work.
The Right Management, a subsidiary ManpowerGroup, released a snapshot survey that underlines the dissatisfaction among American workers including feeling stuck in their jobs and unable to consider a career move even if they’re unhappy.
In fact, the American Psychological Association’s 2010 Stress in America Survey found that work is cited as 1 of the top 3 contributors to stress, second only to worries about money and followed closely by fear about the state of the economy.
You might be asking yourself "What does all this stress have to do with heart disease?"
Job stress puts pressure on the heart by raising blood pressure, heart rate, and even cholesterol levels. When you are under job stress you may have the tendency to reduce your attentiveness to healthful lifestyle choices, increasing likelihood of risky behaviors like over eating, smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and sleeplessness, which all exacerbate known risk factors for cardiac disease. These unhealthy behaviors leads to obesity and type 2 diabetes.When you have diabetes, you are at least twice as likely as someone who does not have diabetes to have heart disease or a stroke.
What can you do?
When it comes to stress the answer is very individual. It's a trial and error until you find the strategy that works for you. Here is what WebMD has to say:
- Add cardiovascular exercise, such as running, biking or brisk walking.
- Try yoga, tai chi, massage and / or meditation.
- Change your point of view, take a fresh look.
- Focus on healthy behaviors such as eating heart healthy and stop smoking.
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Your heart will thank you.
Your partner in health,
Cindy Cohen RN, BS BA
Certified Health Coach