Unshared household responsibilities could send your blood pressure soaring, it seems. Such domestic stress could be far worse than workplace hassles.
Scientists in the US tested over 100 working men and women and found those who took on most of the responsibility for running the home had significantly higher blood pressure readings than those who left it to their partners.
AdvertisementThe findings, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, suggest the strongest link with high blood pressure came from worries over how to get domestic chores done, such as cleaning, cooking and shopping.
Next came car maintenance and repair, paying the bills and keeping on top of the household budget.
Interestingly looking after the children and pets does not seem to have any adverse effect on blood pressure. This coupled with the fact that domestic pressure tells more strongly on women than on men could also be related to social perception of gender roles.
Although there have been hundreds of studies investigating the links between stress at work and the risk of heart attacks and strokes, little research has been done into whether running a home and family has a similar effect.
Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recruited 113 men and women in full-time work.
Each one provided details on how many hours they worked and what level of responsibility they took on for running the home.
They then underwent regular blood pressure checks at a local clinic over a three-week period, before finally wearing a blood pressure monitor for a day to track changes at work and home.
The results showed those taking on most of the responsibility at home, primarily women, were at greater risk of high blood pressure.
Household chores increased systolic readings by as much as 4.4mmHg, taking care of house or car repairs by 2.64mmHg and paying bills by 1.66mmHg. Poorer families were more likely to be affected than better off ones.
Although some research suggests vigorous housework may be good for the heart, researchers believe the repetitive nature of cleaning, for example, may add to stress-related blood pressure problems rather than alleviate them.