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Oct 15, 2015 11:57 AM EDT

Stressful jobs increase stroke risk

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A new analysis of past research has revealed that high stress jobs increase the risk of stroke by 22 percent among people as compared to those who are in low stress jobs, Reuters reports.

The analysis was published in the journal Neurology.

The study included nearly 140,000 participants.

A high-stress job is defined as one where the individual has to put up with high demands of the employer and has little control over decision-making.

Senior author Dr. Dingli Xu of Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, told Reuters Health that earlier research on the relation of work stress and stroke were not conclusive in their results.

However, plenty of research studies have linked job stress to heart disease in general and high blood pressure in particular.

The research team studied data from six studies involving a total of 138,782 participants who were followed for three to 17 years.

The analysis showed that people with high stress jobs involving high demand and low control were 22 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than people with low stress jobs. The risk was 33% higher among women in high-strain jobs compared to those in low-strain jobs.

In both sexes, the risk of ischemic stroke was 58 percent greater in the high stress jobs group compared to those in low stress jobs.

"I think that everyone intuitively knows that stress increases illness in general, and this shows work stress increases stroke risk," said Dr. Jennifer J. Majersik with the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, who wrote an editorial accompanying the new study.

But other factors like smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes are still "off the chart more important," she told Reuters Health.

"Things like telecommuting, flexible work hours, allowing decision making to not be as top heavy, allowing people to make decisions about their own jobs," would be an amazing public health intervention, she said.

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