Work stress puts strain on women's hearts

Dealing with stress at work could be putting women at risk of a serious medical problem. A new study by scientists from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, has found females who rate their jobs as highly demanding are more likely to have a heart attack, stroke or heart disease.

Study author Dr Michelle Albert said most previous research on the strains of people's work life has concentrated on how these pressures impact men's health, but not how women are affected as a sex.

The analysis - which has been published in the journal PLoS One - has revealed females who claim their job is demanding and stressful are 38 per cent more likely to have heart problems than their counterparts in roles that are less high-octane.

"We're all stressed out, but we're talking about strain or stress that's above and beyond the body's ability to handle it," Dr Albert remarked.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Almuth McDowall commented: "These US findings underline that work strain comes at a cost, for female and male employees and results in increased risks to health in stressful jobs.

"Interestingly, the researchers also found that employees who have high control - active strain - were also at risk. But clearly, more research is needed.

"What exactly is it about these jobs that people find to stressful? Only with more detailed understanding could employees and employers take targeted action to reduce such strain."

Clinical Psychologist Jennifer Wild added: "These results are significant. They show that stress affects cardiovascular health in women, which was a finding previously limited to men. 

"They highlight the need to address stress in the workplace to improve overall health."