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Job stress linked to higher risk of heart rhythm disorders

Stressed Young Female Doctor Pulling Her Hair In Frustration


While job stress at work is quite common, some jobs can be psychologically demanding. These types of jobs can cause job strain and employees have little control over the work situation — like assembly line workers, bus drivers, secretaries and nurses. Enormous job stress can have adverse effects on health and that is what a study from Sweden found.

According to researchers from the School of Health and Welfare at Jönköping University in Sweden, being stressed at work is associated with a 48 per cent higher risk of atrial fibrillation, after all adjustments are made for age, sex, and education.

Atrial fibrillation (AR) is the most common heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia) and occurs in 2 per cent of the general population in Australia according to the National Heart Foundation. It is more common in older people, affecting 5 per cent of people over 65 years of age.

The researchers then combined their results with two other previous studies and found that job strain was associated with a 37 per cent increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

The symptoms of AR include palpitations, weakness, fatigue, exercise intolerance, discomfort, feeling light headed, dizziness and shortness of breath. AR has some serious consequences and it causes 20-30 per cent of all strokes and increases the risk of dying prematurely.

This study evaluated the link between work stress and atrial fibrillation and included 13,200 participants enrolled into the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health (SLOSH) in 2006, 2008, or 2010. Participants had no history of atrial fibrillation, heart attack, or heart failure.

Before the study began the participants completed postal surveys on socio-demographics, lifestyle, health, and work-related factors. Work stress was defined as job strain, which refers to jobs with high psychological demands combined with low control over the work situation.

The survey included five questions on job demands and six questions on control — for example: Do you have to work very hard or very fast? Are there conflicting demands in your work? Do you have enough time to complete your work tasks? Does your work include a lot of repetition? Can you decide how and what to do at work?

At a median follow-up of 5.7 years, the researchers identified 145 cases of atrial fibrillation. The researchers found that job strain was associated with an almost 50 per cent increased risk of AR in the general working population in Sweden.

The researchers then combined their results with two other previous studies and found that job strain was associated with a 37 per cent increased risk of atrial fibrillation. Work stress has been linked to the risk of coronary heart disease in previous studies. This can be prevented at a workplace. People who feel stressed and have palpitations or other symptoms of AR should see their doctor and talk to their employer about improving their work situation.

Employers can help minimise job stress by scheduling breaks, listening to employees’ ideas on work and the work environment. They can also make sure that their employees have all the resources they need to complete their tasks effectively without adversely affecting their health and wellbeing.

Source: European Journal of Preventive Cardiology


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!