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November 27, 2012

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Stressful jobs raise heart-disease risk for older men

Older men with stressful jobs and little power to make decisions are more likely to suffer with heart disease than their counterparts with less job strain, researchers have found.

Researchers from University College Cork found that older male workers who had a heart attack, or unstable angina were four times as likely to have high job strain.

Previous studies have linked coronary heart disease to job stress, generally defined as a combination of high job demands and low autonomy, but the latest research looked specifically at the impact of job strain on older workers.

The authors of the study adjusted the results to exclude the effects of socio-economic factors, such as smoking and weight issues. No association was found between heart disease and job strain in younger people. 

Lead author of the study, Vera McCarthy, commented: “This study is important because of our increasing ageing population, as it provides information on older workers necessary to inform policy-makers, clinicians, occupational-health physicians and employers.”

According to the Society of Occupational Medicine, a third of workers will be over the age of 50 by 2020. To respond to this demographic change, employers may need to increase investment in occupational-health services to keep people economically active and help ensure older workers remain healthy.

The Society’s president, Dr Richard Heron, said: “These results suggest that older workers may be more susceptible to job strain. Employers need to ensure that they are looking after the health of their older employees, making necessary adjustments and being flexible about the jobs they do and their working practices.”

“Enlightened employers are already making plans to address health and ageing for the benefit of their business. This report provides one more reason to pay attention to workplace health – it’s good for the individual, good for business, and good for the wider economy.”

The study is published in the scientific journal, Occupational Medicine.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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