It would seem that work-related stress might actually have a direct biological impact on the human body, thereby increasing the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
This conclusion emerges from a large European study, which observed over 10,000 British workers. In fact, this study demonstrated that workers under the age of 50 who described their job as stressful had a 70% greater risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases, than those who did not feel such stress. The stressed workers had less time to exercise and eat well. However, researchers also observed definite biochemical changes in the workers’ systems.
Because of this study, scientists believe they are able to better understand the biological mechanism that links stress and cardiovascular diseases. In fact, it would seem that stress actually perturbs the part of the nervous system that controls the heart and tells it how hard it should work, and how fast the heart rate should be. Stressed workers had a weak “vagal tone” (a message from the central nervous system to the heart, informing it to relax). An important part of the system that releases hormones – the neuroendocrine system – also seemed to be thrown off balance by stress. For example, anxious workers registered higher concentrations of cortisol in the morning. Cortisol is a known stress hormone.
Furthermore, this study reinforces the idea that unhealthy lifestyle habits linked to professional stress such as smoking, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits are key factors in the onset of cardiovascular diseases.
You have job in which stress is common place? Learn to better manage your workload and emotions, and get moving! Physical activity and relaxation techniques are two great tools that can help you reduce stress, and thereby reduce your risk of suffering from heart disease.