While many workplaces are becoming more casual, a necktie is still required in many professions. New research from University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Germany could change that, however. Scientists there published a study recently about blood flow to the brain being compromised by wearing a tie.
It’s not the first study to raise the issue of pressure on veins when ties are worn. A 2003 study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology investigated neckties and ocular pressure. That study also showed an association with ties and glaucoma. The researchers at University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein wanted to build on this earlier work and find out if brain health was affected by neckties.
Using MRI imaging, they looked at 15 men who were wearing neckties that were a bit tight, to a level of “slight discomfort” which was not enough to be painful, but was representative of how tight some men have their ties. The control group was a similar group of men who were not wearing ties. The scans looked at cerebral blood flow (CBF). When the scans were analyzed the research showed that CBF dropped by roughly 7.5 percent in the men wearing a necktie. Those who were not wearing ties showed normal blood flow to the brain, with no decrease.
In the study, all of the participants were healthy young men, so a drop in blood flow of 7.5% wouldn’t be that worrisome. It could be a factor in older people, or those with conditions that are already impacting CBF such as the elderly, smokers and men who have had strokes, blood clots or high blood pressure. The work is published in the journal Neuroradiology. The researchers write, “Negative cerebrovascular effects can be expected by compressing jugular veins and carotids by a necktie. It was already demonstrated that a necktie increases intraocular pressure. In many professions, a special dress code including a necktie and a collared shirt is mandatory although little is known about the effect of this 'socially desirable strangulation.'"
The team plans to look into researching the issue further with a larger cohort of patients who are older and perhaps have some vascular issues. For now, it’s probably not too dangerous to wear a tie, but it could be a good reason to suggest more casual attire at the office. Check out the video below to learn more about the study.