In a recent survey, roughly 200,000 people were studied and an attempt was made to draw a line between job strain and heart related problems such as heart attacks and coronary heart disease. Turns out, the more control a person has over their working situation (doctors, lawyers, self-employed), the less likely they are to have work related strains than someone, for example, who works on an assembly line or a kitchen prep counter. This latter group, defined by their lack of decision-making freedom, is facing tremendous strain on their hearts. Dr. Peter Weissberg, who represents much of the research from the British Heart Foundation, insists that this type of information has long been considered obvious, but the studies provide a more concrete reason for employers to rethink the health of their employees, perhaps finding ways for them to have more decision-making freedom even at the factory floor. If this doesn’t change, one of the problems that may continue for these workers is an uptick in smoking and lack of exercise, since their motivations and spirit are so often weakened. “This large study confirms this,” says Weissberg, “but also shows that the negative effect of workplace strain is much smaller than, for example, the damage caused by smoking or lack of exercise. Though stresses at work may be unavoidable, how you deal with these pressures is important, and lighting up a cigarette is bad news for your heart. Eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise and quitting smoking will more than offset any risk associated with your job.”
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Work Control and Your Heart