A recent study was carried out to assess the role of psychosocial stress related to work (job strain) as a risk factor for coronary heart disease. The study was carried out with a meta-analysis of several studies, published and unpublished, from Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK.
The researchers defined incident coronary heart disease as the first non-fatal myocardial infarction or coronary death. Individual records of 13 European cohort studies (from 19852006) of employed men and women without coronary heart disease at baseline assessment were examined. Subjects without data for age, sex, job strain, or coronary heart disease events, and those who were already diagnosed with coronary heart disease before the study were omitted from the study. Some of their lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol intake and physical activity were also assessed. The mean age of the subjects was 42.3 years and 50% of the subjects were women.
AdvertisementThe role of psychological factors, including personality type, psychological stress and cognition in the cause of coronary heart disease has already been analyzed in other studies. Of these factors, psychological stress has been the most widely analyzed factor. The association between job strain, high job demands, low work control and psychological stress has been widely investigated. Some studies have shown that the risk of heart disease doubles with job strain but other meta-analysis studies have shown that the risk is modest, approximately 40%.
In this study, job strain was measured with the help of a questionnaire. The participants were asked about the psychological nuances of their job and the median scores were calculated to assess job strain. The subjects were followed up for any cardiovascular event or death due to cardiovascular illnesses.
The study helped to establish a significant link between job strain and coronary heart disease. The unpublished data suggests that the link was weak while the published data pointed to the contrary. The associated risk factors such as age, sex, smoking, alcohol intake, socio economic status did not change the magnitude of the link between job strain and cardiovascular risk.
Reference: "Job strain as a risk factor for coronary heart disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of individual participant data;" Mika Kivimaki et al; The Lancet Online Publication (2012).