It is not uncommon for people to give up their careers after developing cardiovascular problems because doctors say stress from work can lead to heart ailments.
The latest case in point is Urban Meyer, the football coach to the Florida Gators, who hung up his boots after he was diagnosed with a heart muscle problem.
AdvertisementCam Patterson, chief of cardiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and director of the UNC McAllister Heart Institute, said: "All too often, we see patients who have their wake-up calls after a serious heart attack. I think that we need to give Meyer credit for recognizing that heart health is a serious matter before he got to the point where it is too late for him."
He continued: "Some people in high-level positions add more stress to their lives than they need to."
According to Patterson, stress can cause heart problems but it doesn't necessarily force people to retire.
He said: "I've seen that over and over again with patients who have gotten serious about healthy eating habits and adopting a healthy lifestyle. They remain productive, or they become even more productive in their professions.
"Overworking begets overworking. Neglecting healthy eating patterns begets unhealthy eating patterns. You need to break the cycle."
Talking about how one can reduce the risk of heart disease Patterson said: "There's nothing inherent in being a college football coach that inevitably leads to an unhealthy lifestyle and increased cardiovascular risk...The thing to do is to look out for those aspects of that or any profession that contributes to unhealthy behaviors, wall them off and develop tools to protect yourself against them.
"A lot of people know it intuitively, that they bring stress upon themselves. But they don't have a repertoire of things to do to relieve stress. It's a matter of giving people tools that they can use to impact stress on their professional lives."
He added: "The tools can be simple, such as turning off your iPhone on occasion or scheduling regular social activities like a weekly date with your spouse. Regular exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress, as is meditation. At the workplace, learning how to delegate tasks reduces stress and makes you a better leader at the same time. A good balanced diet does a lot to stay on an even keel, and I tell my patients a good free resource for healthy diets is www.drgourmet.com. Being happy is a great way to reduce stress as well, and I've been referring my patients to the Happiness Project (www.happiness-project.com) because I think there is a lot of good common-sense wisdom there."