According to a study done by researchers at Harvard Medical School, women who who said their job requires them to work "very hard" or "very fast" but who have little say over their day-to-day tasks — a combination known as "job strain" — were 88% more likely than those in less-stressful jobs to have a heart attack. They were also 43 percent more likely to need heart surgery, reported the study.
In addition, women who were stressed out by work or worried about losing their jobs were more likely than those with steady employment to be physically inactive and to have high cholesterol, according to CNN's report of the research. (Job insecurity by itself did not appear to increase the risk of heart attack, however.)
Peter Kaufmann, Ph.D., a researcher at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that these findings "emphasize that progress is needed urgently in this arena."
"The results certainly imply that we need to do more to make jobs healthier," says Paul Landsbergis, Ph.D., an associate professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. One way to accomplish this, he adds, might be to give individual workers more control over their jobs through collective bargaining and other types of organizing.
Dr. Michelle Albert, M.D., a Boston cardiologist, suggested, "We're never going to be able to get rid of stress — some stress is positive, actually. The negative aspects of stress we're going to need to learn how to manage."