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Stressful jobs boost BP

16th April 2007

Stressful jobs - where demands are high but self-direction is limited - boost employees' blood pressure, even when they're trying to rest or relax, a Belgian study has found.

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The team of researchers led by Els Clay of Ghent University in Belgium found that workers who reported work-related stress showed a small, but significant, rise in blood pressure even during spare time and sleep.

As part of the Belgian Job Stress Project, the researchers strapped blood pressure monitors to the arms of 89 middle-aged men and women found to have particularly stressful jobs. Another 89 men and women not experiencing job stress also volunteered for the study.

After adjusting for other factors that affect blood pressure - sex, age, weight, physical job demands, high stress outside work, and physical activity - researchers found the participants still  had 5.9/3.0 mm Hg higher blood pressure than the nonstressed workers did. They also had higher blood pressure while at home, including while they were sleeping.

The team attributed the stress to a combination of high psychological demands and low levels of control over working life.

The study was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.


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