Job stress strains women’s hearts

Juggling tight deadlines, time-consuming projects, difficult coworkers and the demands of an overbearing boss are skills many employees must possess in today’s economy. A little stSt is good for the soul, but too much can take a toll on more than just your sanity and sense of well-being.

Women workers in particular should take note: Job-related stress can cause more of a headache, or a heartache, than you might already have. A Harvard University study found women who report a high level of job strain face a 40 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and an 88 percent increase in heart attack risk.

The investigators defined “strain” as difficult work with little opportunity for independent decision-making or creativity. Past studies have suggested that workers who have more control over their schedules and even decorating their work desk are happier and healthier.

The Harvard study also found that while female employees worried about losing their jobs did not exhibit more heart problems than securely employed women, they did have some risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Those fearing the dreaded pink slip were more likely to be overweight or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Similar studies in men have showed a clear link between work stress and heart disease, and now evidence shows the same is true for women.

So, with the holiday break far behind and the doldrums of winter lingering, be sure to make time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. De-stress by scheduling a massage, watching a funny movie or planning your next vacation. Maybe even set a plant on your desk. It’s the least you can do for your heart, and your happiness.

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