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Stress management in the workplace lowers heart disease risk

Harold Mandel's picture

Stressful employment factors in high-income nations are contributing to the epidemic of cardiovascular disease across the world. Stress management in the workplace is essential to deal with this problem.


Stress in the workplace is a serious problem which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. It is important to confront this issue in attempts to maintain better overall health.

Stressful employment factors in high-income countries has contributed to the epidemic of cardiovascular disease

Researchers at University of California, Irvine and SUNY Downstate Medical Center have developed a model which illustrates how economic globalization may lead to the creation of stressful employment factors in high-income countries which contributes to the epidemic of cardiovascular disease across the world.

There is a global epidemic of cardiovascular disease which is responsible for approximately 30 percent of all deaths across the world. Certain risk factors, including hypertension, obesity and diabetes, have been increasing. Researchers who have been investigating the social causes of cardiovascular disease have determined psychosocial job stressors can produce chronic biologic responses such as hypertension and promote behaviors which are unhealthy and which increase risk for cardiovascular disease.

Work organization should be improved

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A theoretical model has been developed by the researchers which shows how economic globalization has influenced the labor market and work organization in countries with high incomes. This in turn has exacerbated costly job characteristics, such as unreasonable demands, low job control, imbalance of effort-reward, job insecurity and extended hours. It has been suggested to improve work organization in view of the high costs of medical treatment and the economic impact on employers and on society of poor health, lost productivity, and absence from sickness.

The researchers have suggested implementing national surveillance of occupations, industries and workplaces which is aimed at identifying increased levels of hazardous work characteristics. It has also been suggested that regulations and laws should be passed which limit psychosocial stressors at work.

A "living wage" to give adequate support has been suggested

There should also be upper limits to the number of weekly and yearly hours employees can work to decrease heart disease risk. Vacation time should also be mandated for employees in order to help with recovery. The concept of mandating a "living wage" has also been suggested. This would give adequate support so workers are not forced to work hours which are too long.

This study has been published in the International Journal of Health Services. Long work hours, high demands, repetitive work, lack of control, and job insecurity have emerged as bigger problems than ever before with industrialization and economic globalization. These work stressors contribute to risk factors for heart disease.

NHS in the United Kingdom reports that it is critical to your overall health to have good stress management in the workplace. Life coach Suzy Greaves says one of the primary skills to managing workplace stress is to know how to simply say no to overwork. Greaves coaches people to become empowered and believe that they have a choice. This is good advice which can save your life. A healthy and sustainable work-life balance should be everybody's right.