Think smoking’s bad for your health? It’s got nothing on your job.
According to new research, job burnout and stress — dealing with emotional, mental and physical exhaustion from your work — makes you a prime candidate for heart problems.
Those who were identified as being in the top 20 percent of the burnout scale were found to have a (yikes!) 79 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease — an accumulation of plaque in arteries that can lead to angina or heart attacks — according to researchers from Tel Aviv University.
Researchers studied nearly 9,000 apparently healthy employed men and women, aged 19 to 67 years. They were asked questions about their ability to focus, think clearly and be sensitive to their co-workers’ and customers’ needs, as well as their emotional investment in their work.
The results were even alarming to researchers, who said they were more extreme than they had expected. It makes burnout a stronger predictor of CHD than many other classical risk factors, including smoking, blood lipid levels and physical activity.
But just how alarming are these results, really?
Employees have known for years already how much work stress affects them — from working hard for peanuts, having a bad or difficult boss, long commutes, long hours and so on. The same goes for doctors as they have been treating heart attacks most often caused by stress and writing prescription after prescription. (Other research finds that women with high-stress jobs suffer a whopping 88 percent greater risk of heart attack.) Now that researchers know this, I suppose employers are the last ones to know it — or at least offer help or suggestions.