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Stressful Jobs May Raise Women's Heart Attack Risk, Study Finds
Date:11/15/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have taxing jobs with little control over their busy days are at higher risk for heart attacks or the need for coronary bypass surgery, new research suggests.

Furthermore, worrying about losing one's job also raised the odds of having cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and higher cholesterol levels -- but not actual heart attacks, stroke or death, the researchers said.

The study, presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, breaks new ground for being one of the first to look at the effect of work-related stress on women's health. Most previous studies have focused on men and, yes, those studies found that job stress upped males' odds for cardiovascular disease, too.

Women comprise roughly half of the U.S. workforce today, with 70 percent of all women holding some kind of job, said study senior author Dr. Michelle A. Albert, an associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Albert and her colleagues looked at more than 17,000 female health professionals, with an average age of 57, who showed no signs of cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study.

Participants responded to statements about how draining their job was, such as -- "My job allows me to make a lot of decisions on my own" or "My job requires that I learn new things" or "My job requires working very fast."

"Job strain [involving] psychological demand and decision latitude are tied into the concept of skill, how you are allowed to be at your job, is your job repetitive, does it require you to work at a fast pace," explained Albert.

Over 10 years of follow-up, the researchers noted that women with high job strain -- demanding jobs over which they had little control -- were more likely to be sedentary and to have high cholesterol. They were also at almost
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