In Unfit Men, Heavy Work May Increase Fatal Heart Disease Risk: Study

The results suggest that by maintaining good physical fitness, men who engage in heavy labor can avoid increased risk, and possibly even lower their risk of death from heart disease.

High physical work demands are linked to an increased risk of death from ischemic heart disease (IHD)—but only for men who aren’t physically fit, reports a study in the November Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

The increase in risk is not explained by the higher rates of heavy work and health risk factors among men at lower socioeconomic levels, concluded the new research, led by Andreas Holtermann, Ph.D., of Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen.

A previous study of 5,250 Danish men found an increased risk of death from IHD (such as heart attack) in men with high physical work demands and low physical fitness. However, social class was a potential confounding factor: men at lower socioeconomic levels are more likely to have jobs involving heavy work. They also have higher rates of lifestyle risk factors, such as smoking and obesity.

To address this question, the researchers analyzed 2,707 men in the lower socioeconomic levels. Thirty percent of men in this group had high physical work demands, compared to 3.5 percent for those at higher socioeconomic levels. The long-term risk of death from IHD was 14 percent for men in the lower social classes, compared to about nine percent in the higher social classes.

However, the main risk factor was not low socioeconomic status, but rather low physical fitness. Men with low fitness and high physical work demands were nearly three times more likely to die from IHD, compared to those with low work demands.

Among men who did heavy work, risk was about 40 percent lower for those with high physical fitness.

Thus socioeconomic factors don't seem to explain the link between heavy labor and IHD risk. “These observations indicate that physical fitness is a protector of or a risk modifier among men exposed to high physical loads on their cardiovascular system,” Holterman and co-authors wrote. The results suggest that by maintaining good physical fitness, men who engage in heavy labor can avoid increased risk, and possibly even lower their risk of death from heart disease.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe
Bulwark CP

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2020

    November December 2020

    Featuring:

    • COLD STRESS
      Managing Cold Stress
    • TRAINING: FALL PROTECTION
      Providing Training for Fall Protection
    • PPE: HEARING PROTECTION
      Eight Tips for Hearing Testing Day
    • FACILITY SECURITY
      Incorporating COVID-19 Protections into Safety Programs
    View This Issue