7th June 2018

Higher risk of heart rhythm disorders in stressful jobs

Workers at most risk of developing heart rhythm disorders include secretaries, bus drivers, nurses and assembly line workers, according to a major report.

The study, ‘Job strain and atrial fibrillation, found being stressed at work was associated with a 48 per cent higher risk of atrial fibrillation, which is the most common form of heart rhythm disorder. It is responsible for causing between 20-30 per cent of all strokes and increases the risks of premature death.

The study, published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, also claimed the most stressful jobs are often psychologically demanding, but give staff little control over their work situation.

More than 13,200 people were examined, who had enrolled into the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health.

Dr Eleonor Fransson, study author and associate professor of epidemiology at Jonkoping University in Sweden, said: “We need people to do these jobs, but employers can help by making sure staff have the resources required to complete the assigned tasks.

“Bosses should schedule breaks and listen to employees’ ideas on how the work itself and the work environment can be improved.”

The study revealed one in four middle-aged adults in Europe and the United States will develop atrial fibrillation, and by 2030 there will be between 14 and 17 million patients with the condition in Europe alone.

Dr Fransson added: “In the general working population in Sweden, employees with stressful jobs were almost 50 per cent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation.

“The estimated risk remained even after we took into account other factors, such as smoking, leisure time physical activity, body mass index and hypertension.

“Work stress has previously been linked with coronary heart disease. Work stress should be considered a modifiable risk factor preventing atrial fibrillation and coronary heart disease.

“People who feel stressed at work and have palpitations or other symptoms or atrial fibrillation should see their doctor and speak to their employer about improving the situation at work.”