If that enticing job offer involves piling on the stress, it might pay to think again.

The popular idea that over-demanding work increases the risk of heart attacks has been confirmed by new research.
Scientists found that people in stressful jobs are 23% more likely to experience an event linked to heart disease than less stressed individuals.

They came to the conclusion after analysing data on almost 200,000 people from seven European countries.

"Our findings indicate that job strain is associated with a small but consistent increased risk of experiencing a first coronary heart disease event, such as a heart attack," said study leader Professor Mika Kivimaki, from University College London.

The researchers defined a stressful job as one involving high workload coupled with little freedom to make decisions.
People often link work stress to heart problems, but in reality previous research on the subject has been inconclusive.

The new investigation pooled together results from 13 European studies conducted in the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands and Sweden between 1985 and 2006.

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  • "Standing" Jobs And Arthritis

    Everyday Health reported that <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis-pictures/9-worst-jobs-for-your-joints.aspx#/slide-4" target="_hplink">foot arthritis</a> can be a health risk for people who have to stand a lot for work -- including teachers -- because they are on their feet all day. Therefore, people who have to <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/arthritis-pictures/9-worst-jobs-for-your-joints.aspx#/slide-4" target="_hplink">stand a lot for their jobs</a> should choose to regularly wear comfortable shoes and not high heels, according to Everyday Health, because wearing high heels can put stress on the joints in your feet. In fact, standing too long -- as well as other factors like being overweight or having higher or flat arches -- are linked with an increased risk of <a href="http://www.arthritistoday.org/fitness/starting-out/tips-for-success/heel-pain-arthritis.php" target="_hplink">many kinds of arthritis</a>, according to <em>Arthritis Today</em>.

  • Soldiers And Stress

    The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/the-10-most-stressful-job-careercast_n_1186845.html#s591971&title=1_Enlisted_Soldier" target="_hplink">enlisted solider</a> topped this year's CareerCast.com ranking of the most stressful jobs. The ranking took into account factors like physical demands, risks to your life or to others' lives, competitiveness, deadlines and meeting with the public. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/the-10-most-stressful-job-careercast_n_1186845.html#s591970&title=2_Firefighter" target="_hplink">Firefighters</a> ranked second on the 2012 list, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/05/the-10-most-stressful-job-careercast_n_1186845.html#s591969&title=3_Airline_Pilot" target="_hplink">airline pilots</a> ranked third.

  • Dancers And Divorce

    According to 2000 Census data analyzed in a Radford University study, <a href="http://blogs.menshealth.com/health-headlines/the-5-worst-jobs-for-your-marriage/2011/06/06" target="_hplink">dancers have the highest rate of divorce</a>, at 43 percent, and bartenders have the second highest rate, at 38 percent, <em>Men's Health</em> reported. Other surprising jobs also made the top list, with roofers having a 27 percent divorce rate and sailors having a 26 percent divorce rate, according to <em>Men's Health</em>. (<a href="http://blogs.menshealth.com/health-headlines/the-5-worst-jobs-for-your-marriage/2011/06/06" target="_hplink">For reasons why, read the <em>Men's Health</em> piece.</a>)

  • Construction Work And Lung Problems

    Health.com reported that <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20443619_2,00.html" target="_hplink">inhaled dust from construction</a> could put workers at risk for lung problems like cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. In fact, occupational lung disease is the No. 1 cause of <a href="http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/lung_diseases/lung/occupationallung/Pages/index.aspx" target="_hplink">work-related illness</a>, according to Oregon State University. Symptoms include chest tightness, coughing, shortness of breath and breathing abnormally, according to OSU, and the disease can be caused by either by long-term exposure to the hazard, or by a particularly bad one-time exposure to the hazard.

  • Personal Caregivers And Depression

    People whose job it is to <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20428990_2,00.html" target="_hplink">care for someone</a> -- for example, nursing home workers -- have the highest rate of depression, Health.com reported. Eleven percent of people in this field of work have had a major depressive episode. Comparatively, 13 percent of unemployed people and 7 percent of the general population has had a major depressive episode. "It is stressful, seeing people sick and not getting a lot of positive reinforcement," clinical psychologist Christopher Willard, of Tufts University, <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20428990_2,00.html" target="_hplink">told Health.com</a>. Last year, Reuters reported the results of a Caring.com survey that showed that one in four people who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/caregivers-depression_n_854538.html" target="_hplink">care for an elderly relative</a> or friend have depression.

  • Shift Workers And Sleep Problems

    There have been numerous studies showing the potential health problems of shift workers, and a big one is sleep. In fact, there's a name for it -- <a href="http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/sleep_disorders/hic_shift_work_sleep_disorder.aspx" target="_hplink">shift work sleep disorder</a> -- and it's caused by the different sleep and wake schedules of people who work at nontraditional hours of the day, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Symptoms of shift work sleep disorder include having no energy, having headaches and finding it difficult to concentrate, the <a href="http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/sleep_disorders/hic_shift_work_sleep_disorder.aspx" target="_hplink">Cleveland Clinic reported</a>. As a result, the risk is raised of work-related mistakes, accidents, mood problems and taking sick leave.

  • Overtime Work And Depression

    Working overtime -- 11 or more hours a day -- is linked with a more than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/26/overtime-work-depression_n_1234025.html" target="_hplink">doubled risk of a major depressive episode</a>, compared with people who work the more standard seven to eight hours a day, according to a recent <em>PLoS ONE</em> study. Researchers from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London looked at health and work data from 2,000 middle-aged Brits over a nearly 6-year period, and saw that there was a definite link between overtime hours worked and depression risk. And for more health risks associated with working long hours, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/28/overtime-work-hurts-health_n_1237941.html#s646069&title=Sitting" target="_hplink">click here</a>.

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All the men and women taking part completed questionnaires about their jobs, workload, deadlines and freedom to make decisions. None had suffered a heart attack before providing the details.

Over an average follow-up period of 7.5 years, researchers recorded a total of 2,356 cases of heart disease events. These included hospital admissions due to heart attacks and deaths from heart disease.

The greater risk reported for people in stressful jobs remained after taking into account factors such as lifestyle, age, gender and socio-economic background.

The findings are published today in the latest online edition of The Lancet medical journal.

Prof Kivimaki said if the association was causal job stress probably accounted for a "notable proportion" of heart disease events in the working population.

"As such, reducing workplace stress might decrease disease incidence," he added.

But he pointed out that stress reduction would have a much smaller impact than tackling smoking and lack of exercise.

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  • Breathe

    "Perhaps you have been thinking too much, and need just to clear out the mental (and physical noise. Sit and draw your attention to your breathing. You don't even need to close your eyes to do this. "Notice the beat of your heart and how fast or slow it is. Be aware of every breath in and every breath out consciously releasing stress on each outward breath. Before you know it, the journey will be over and you will be floating home."

  • Listen To Relaxing Music

    "You can download meditation mp3's free online or relaxing music of nature or gentle instruments. Play this on your journey home and try to visualise a place for you which you find relaxing. You will feel the stress leaving your body and be ready to start your evening."

  • Get Organised

    "Why not use the time to make a list of things you want to achieve that week? Plan your next holiday, or make your christmas list. Its not often we get time to do these types of things in what can be a hectic life, so use it to your benefit, know that its time for you, and start to enjoy and make use of your commuting time."

  • Read A Book

    "How about taking a good book into work with you and using your commute to escape into it. Try to read something that you can really get stuck into and before you know it, you will be excited for your next commute instead of dreading it."

  • Enjoy 'You' Time

    "The average commute time is between 30 mins and 1 hour. Use this time to gather your thoughts. Perhaps you've had a stressful day and want to use this time to gain some perspective on it so it doesn't overtake your evening. "Or maybe something has been bothering you for a while, and you can use this time to think through possible solutions, and work out strategies to leave it in the past and start moving forward."

Commenting on the results in the journal, Dr Bo Netterstrom, from Bispebjerg Hospital in the Netherlands, said: "Exposures such as job insecurity and factors related to social capital and emotions are likely to be of major importance in the future. The present economic crisis will almost certainly increase this importance."

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: "We know that being under stress at work, and being unable to change the situation, could increase your risk of developing heart disease.

"This large study confirms this, 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."

See also:

Wine Better For Vessels Than Vodka, Study Suggests

Work-Related Stress Soars By 40% During A Recession

Smiling Can Lower Stress (Even if You're Not Feeling Happy)

Life coach Suzy Greaves told the NHS that a key skill to managing stress at work is learning how to say "no".

"I’m constantly challenging clients who say they have no choice but to overwork," she explains. "I coach people to become empowered and believe they have a choice."

She admits that while you can win brownie points in the short term by saying "yes", if you take on too much you risk being unable to deliver which will reflect badly.

Greaves says you should calculate how long you'll need to deal with your current workload so that you can see if you have any extra capacity.

“If you’re extremely busy and your boss asks you to do more, you can say no. Outline your reasons in a specific, measurable way, but always offer a solution,” she adds.