To determine whether a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the effects of job stress on coronary artery disease, researchers looked at 7 cohort studies from a large European initiative that included 102 128 people who were disease-free during the 15-year study period (1985-2000).
Participants, ranging in age from 17-70 (mean 44.3) years were from the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Sweden and Finland. More than half (52 percent) were women.
Of the total participants, 15 986 (16 percent) reported job stress, which was determined from specific job-related questions in the studies.
The investigators defined three lifestyle categories based on smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity/inactivity and obesity (body mass index).
A "healthy lifestyle" had no lifestyle risk factors, "moderately unhealthy lifestyle" had one risk factor and "unhealthy lifestyle" included 2-4 lifestyle risk factors.
"The risk of coronary artery disease was highest among participants who reported job strain and an unhealthy lifestyle; those with job strain and a healthy lifestyle had about half the rate of thisdisease," Dr. Mika Kivimaki, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London (UCL), London, United Kingdom wrote.
"These observational data suggest that a healthy lifestyle could substantially reduce the risk of coronary artery disease risk among people with job strain," Kivimaki added.
Evidence from randomized controlled trials has shown that lifestyle changes such as weight loss and stopping smoking can reduce the risk of disease.
The study is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).