Call The Shots At Work, Or Risk Heart Disease

Illustration for article titled Call The Shots At Work, Or Risk Heart Disease

Today in duh: Women who have stressful jobs are more likely to have heart disease. But there's an interesting revelation in this large-scale federal study—the difference made by having control over your job.


At first, the revelations from the study of 17,415 women health professionals, beginning in 1999, seem packaged to sternly remind us that the ladies can play with the men in the office, but only if they want the same clogged arteries, heart attacks, and strokes as the big boys. Weren't you so much better off at home with the kids in some fictional past?

But the questions also zeroed in on the fact that not all jobs are structured the same way:

Women with demanding jobs and little control over how to do them were nearly twice as likely to have suffered a heart attack as women with less demanding jobs and more control. The high-stress group had a 40 percent greater overall risk of heart problems, including heart attacks, strokes or clogged arteries needing bypass surgery or an artery-opening angioplasty procedure.

We'd be curious to see data on women who have demanding jobs and more control — ones with both responsibility and authority. Traditionally, women haven't occupied these jobs at the upper echelon of professional life, but since the study began in 1999, surely there were a few.

But the element of social inequality in this is key. The director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said: "This is the first time that we are seeing the realities of the fact that women are in the workforce just as much as men but oftentimes are not in a position of management. And it's not just necessarily working but the nature of what the job is like."

Here's another unsurprising tidbit: "Women worried about losing their jobs had higher blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight."

Study: Women With High Job Stress Face Heart Risks [AP]
Stressful Jobs May Raise Women's Heart Attack Risk, Study Finds [HealthDay]


Image Via mast3r/Shutterstock


I wonder if women are more likely to feel like they lack power or control in their jobs than men. My anecdotal evidence indicates that between men and women at the same level (so with the same amount of power/control), women seem more stressed. This is partly due to the fact that women have more external pressures regarding family/relationships/personal accomplishment and possibly also due to the fact that women are socialized to feel like it's their job to make sure everyone is happy. So female bosses are more likely to internalize the unhappiness of underlings.

But hey, this is just my armchair, non-scientific diagnosis.