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Some Jobs Harder On The Heart Than Others, Study Finds

Update Date: Aug 01, 2014 12:25 PM EDT

Stress at work raises risk of heart attack and stroke, particularly if the job is blue-collared, according to a new study. 

The study added that being unemployed might be just as unhealthy. 

"Workplace factors that increase risk include job stress, exposure to air pollution-like dust and secondhand smoke-and noise," explained lead researcher Dr. Sara Luckhaupt, from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the press release. 

"These workers would benefit from health programs that combine reducing occupational risk factors like job stress with health promotion activities like smoking cessation," she said.

According to researchers, some workers may already have other risk factors for stroke and heart attack, i.e., high blood pressure and cholesterol, which can be worsened by workplace stresses. 

"It's probably a combination of personal and work factors," she said.

"Don't forget the job factors," Luckhaupt said. "The noise, the air pollution and job stress could be contributing to the personal risk factors, like difficulty quitting smoking."

Among unemployed people looking for work, the rate of heart attack was also found to be higher - 2.5 percent. 

"It may be that the stress of unemployment and the lack of access to health care may be contributing to their health problems," Luckhaupt said.

The study establishes an association between employment stress and heart health, but it doesn't prove a cause-and-effect link. 

"Health professionals, employers and workers should take proactive steps to improve their heart health, implement and take advantage of comprehensive workplace wellness programs and better utilize effective interventions to prevent heart disease and stroke," Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, added in the press release.

Researchers detailed the study in the Aug 1 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

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