Your Risk for Heart Health Issues Could be Tied to Your Occupation
A recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions notes that certain types of work have an association with heart disease—especially in women.
Heart problems are a widespread health concern, especially for older populations and women, according to the CDC. Recent research suggests that while a number of lifestyle factors can increase your risk of heart disease, your job might be one doctors are overlooking.
Unhealthful diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, pregnancy complications, and other factors contribute to a person’s risk of heart problems. However, recent research suggests that a woman’s job could be a significant factor in her susceptibility heart issues.
For instance, a study conducted from a cohort in Japan found that individuals in managerial positions, regardless of industry, are at higher risk of heart disease, according to one Medical News Today article.
The researchers of the most recent study took a look into other occupations that show employee risk for heart problems, or lack thereof. The researchers looked for possible associations between heart health status and different occupations in a sample of over 65,000 females whose average age was 63 years and who had already experienced menopause. The data was accessed through the Women’s Health Initiative study.
As part of their researchers, the investigators classified the participants according to the AHA’s cardiovascular health measurements. These metrics look at lifestyle factors like smoking status, weight, physical activity, and nutrition. They also took into account other health factors like cholesterol, blood pressure, and fasting blood sugar.
The researchers also noted 20 of the most common occupations among the participants.
In total, the researchers noted that nearly 13 percent of the females in the study cohort had poor cardiovascular health. More notably, however, they found an identifiable association between specific jobs and an increased risk of health problems in women.
The data found that social workers are reportedly at a high risk of heart issues—women in social work were 36 percent more likely to experience heart health problems than those in other occupations. Retail cashiers showed a 33 percent higher risk of cardiovascular issues.
Women in other professions showed higher risks of heart issues, too. Nurses, psychiatrists, and home health aides had an up to 16 percent higher likelihood of developing heart issues. Among these, nurses in particular had a 14 percent higher risk of cardiovascular problems.
While the data clearly showed which jobs see at-risk females, it also showed an association between some occupations and a lower risk of cardiovascular health issues.
The female real estate brokers and sales agents had a 24 percent lower risk of health problems than those in other professions, while administrative assistants had an 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular issues.
You might be wondering if other key factors affect these results of high or low risk women. Researchers did make adjustments for confounding factors like participant age, marital status, education, and race—but associations with occupations remained in place.
“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,” noted Bede Nriagu, presenter of the researcher at the AHA Scientific Sessions.
This study might be surprising, and maybe a little scary, to think that jobs affect our heart health so much. However, the study is significance in reminding us that it’s important to look beyond individual factors to better understand health care. Jobs, it turns out, are likely affecting our hearts in more ways than one. Hopefully, doctors can begin incorporating a person’s occupation into health discussions.
The CDC notes that it still remains unclear how many occupational risk factors may contribute to heart problems, and it encourages further research.