Stress has long been known to be a major risk factor for developing heart disease. Now, researchers from Drexel University in Philadelphia have found that certain jobs are linked to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular issues in women.
For their study, the researchers analyzed health records from over 65,000 postmenopausal women with an average age of 63 taken by the Women’s Health Initiative study. They then reviewed the 20 most common jobs among the women and classified each of the women according to the American Heart Association's Life’s Simple 7 cardiovascular health metrics. These include information on four health behaviors (smoking, weight, exercise levels and nutrition) as well as data on three health risk factors: total cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting blood sugar levels.
In the end they found that 13% of the women analyzed had poor cardiovascular health, and that among them, several jobs stood out. In particular, they found that retail cashiers were 33% more likely than other professions to have poor cardiac health, with social workers 35% more likely to have heart problems. More than this, they found that women in healthcare positions were up to 16% more likely to have heart conditions, particularly if they worked in nursing, psychiatry or as home health aids.
Meanwhile, the researchers also found that those who were real estate brokers and sales agents tended to have a 24% lower risk of developing heart conditions, while those in administrative jobs were 11% less likely to develop heart problems. These results remained even after data was adjusted for factors including age, marital status, education and ethnicity.
Author of the study, ede Nriagu, said “Several of the professions that had high risk of poor cardiovascular health were health care providers, such as nurses and home health aides. This is surprising because these women are likely more knowledgeable about cardiovascular health risk factors...We interpret this to mean that it’s important to look beyond individual factors such as health knowledge to better understand the context of health care and other jobs that negatively impact cardiovascular health in women.”