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Job stress can cause heart attacks for women too

May 6, 2010 |  3:34 pm

Here’s another crack in the glass ceiling: New research shows that high-pressure jobs can raise the risk of heart disease in women as well as in men.

Nurse The findings are based on a long-term study of more than 12,000 Danish nurses. Researchers interviewed them in 1993 and asked them how much pressure they felt at work. Over the next 15 years, 580 of them had to check into the hospital to get treatment for ischemic heart disease, including 369 cases of chest pain and 138 heart attacks.

It turned out that nurses who said their work pressure was “much too high” were 50% more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease. After adjusting for factors like smoking habits and lifestyle, the increased risk was revised to 35%.

The researchers, from Glostrup University Hospital in Denmark, also found that the effect was limited to nurses ages 50 and younger.

The study appears in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: Women (and men) who keep work stress in check could protect their hearts. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press