The study supervised by Chantal Brisson, is the first of its kind to clearly reveal the hazards related to job strain for employees who have been victims of a first heart attack.
In the study, 972 participants in the age group of 35-59 were examined. All had suffered a heart attack.
For six weeks, two years, and then six years after returning to work, the participants were interviewed to collect data on their health, lifestyles, sociodemographic status, and levels of work stress.
If job had a combination of high psychological demands, like-heavy workload, intense intellectual activity, and important time constraints and little control over decision-making, like- lack of autonomy, creativity, and opportunities to use or develop skills, it was defined as stressful.
The analysis revealed that during the six-year follow-up period, 124 participants suffered a second heart attack and 82-experienced unstable angina for a total of 206 recurrent Coronary heart disease (CHD) events.
During the first two interviews people who reported high levels of stress at work were twice as likely to fall victim to another CHD event.
Even after taking into consideration factors such as severity of the first heart attack, other health conditions, family history, lifestyle, sociodemographic status, personality, and other work-environment characteristics the risk remained the same.
The study showed that job strain does not amplify the probability of experiencing a second CHD event during the first two years following a heart attack.
"It make sense on a biomedical level, since the pathological process at the source of the CHD requires some time before it can manifest itself," Brisson said.
Researchers argued that the study would help people protect from potentially harmful situations when they return to their jobs after a heart attack.
"Employers and occupational health service professionals must find ways to modify the psychological demands of a job or the level of control over decision-making for people returning to work after a heart attack," Brisson said.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.