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Study: Stress in the workplace increases heart attack risks

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19 2012 8:07 a.m. MDT

People with straining, rigorous jobs have nearly 25 percent increased risk of heart attack.

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SALT LAKE CITY — People with straining, rigorous jobs have nearly 25 percent increased risk of heart attack, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet.

"Job strain is composed of two things,” Professor Mika Kivimaki of the University College of London told the Daily News. “One, you have lots of demands, a heavy work load. The other is how much control you have over that. Stress is more common in lower positions than among those who are on the top, who have more authority and control.”

Researchers at University College London examined the data of 200,000 people in Europe who participated in 13 studies between 1985 and 2006, the Huffington Post reported. "The studies had an average follow-up period of 7.5 years, during which 2,356 heart attacks or heart-related deaths occurred."

The elevated risk of heart attack, however, is not as high as has been widely assumed, the researchers wrote in the journal Neurology Thursday. There is lower-hanging fruit — such as smoking habits — that would yield higher health benefits than relieving workplace stress, said the authors.

Workplace stress is no bargain for employers, noted the Los Angeles Times. "Job stress is estimated to cost U.S. employers $300 million a year in absenteeism, lost productivity, higher turnover and added medical, legal and insurance fees."

The Huffington Post offered several suggestions for help unwinding: take a quick YouTube break and watch something that makes you laugh, read a book, eat some chocolate, or socialize for a few minutes.

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate from Brigham Young University. Contact her at rachel.lowry@gmail.com or visit www.rachellowry.blogspot.com.

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