(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) Retirement from some occupations may not provide relief from the potentially devastating health effects of work-related hypertension, according to a new study from UC Davis.
Published in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the study is the first to show that retirement-aged Americans who held higher-status jobs such as chief executives, financial managers and management analysts tend to have the lowest rates of hypertension, while those who had lower-status jobs tend to have the highest rates.
Hypertension is diagnosed when blood pressure on the artery walls is consistently too high. This condition can eventually damage cells of the arteries' inner lining, leading to angina, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, kidney failure and other serious health problems.
"People's occupations during their working years can clearly be a risk for hypertension after they retire," said senior study author Paul Leigh, a professor with the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research and the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis. "The body seems to have built up a stress reaction that takes years to ramp down and may last well beyond age 75."
While one European study correlated pre-retirement jobs with heart disease among seniors, most similar research has focused on working people between the ages of 25 and 65. Consequently, Leigh said, "it's been an open question whether occupations could influence hypertension after retirement, and we wanted to help close that gap in the research."
Leigh, an expert in economics and occupational illnesses, and study co-author Juan Du, who recently received her Ph.D. from UC Davis and is now an assistant professor in the School of Business at The College of New Jersey, based their research on data compiled by the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the study surveys more
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University of California - Davis - Health System