Work stress and sleep loss could make heart disease 300% more deadly

Work stress and sleep loss may make heart disease 300% more deadly

In a new study, researchers found that work stress and sleep loss are particularly dangerous for people who have high blood pressure.

The two factors are linked to a 300% higher risk of death from heart disease in workers with hypertension.

The research was conducted by a team from the Technical University of Munich.

It is estimated that one-third of the working population has high blood pressure.

Previous research has shown that psychosocial factors such as stress have a stronger impact on people with pre-existing heart disease risks than on healthy people.

In the study, the team examined 1,959 workers aged 25-65 with high blood pressure. These people have no heart disease or diabetes.

Work stress was defined as jobs with high demand and low control. For example, an employer wants results but denies authority to make decisions.

Impaired sleep was defined as difficulties falling asleep and/or maintaining sleep at night.

Many stressed workers had impaired sleep. For example, they woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning to go to the toilet and come back to bed ruminating about how to deal with work issues.

The researchers found that compared with people with good sleep and no work stress, people with both risk factors had a three times greater risk of death from heart disease.

People with work stress alone had a 1.6 times higher risk while people with only poor sleep had 1.8 times higher risk.

The researchers suggest that working stress and poor sleep at night can have big harms on people’s mental and physical health.

But the two things often go hand in hand, and when combined with hypertension the effect is even more toxic.

The team recommends programs to manage work stress and improve night sleep.

A good stress management program should start with 5 to 10 minutes of relaxation, include education about healthy lifestyle, help with smoking cessation, physical exercise, weight loss.

It should also provide techniques to cope with stress and anxiety at home and work, and improve improving social relationships and social support.

A good sleep treatment may include training to associate the bed/bedroom with sleep and set a consistent sleep-wake schedule.

It may teach progressive muscle relaxation and help reduce intrusive thoughts at bedtime that interfere with sleep.

It may also include sleep restriction therapy,  which curtails the period in bed to the time spent asleep, thereby inducing mild sleep deprivation, then lengthening sleep time.

In addition, paradoxical intention therapy may help remain passively awake and avoid any effort (i.e. intention) to fall asleep, thereby eliminating anxiety.

This is the first study that examines the effects of work stress and impaired sleep on death from heart disease in workers with high blood pressure.

One author of the study is Professor Karl-Heinz Ladwig from the German Research Centre for Environmental Health and the Medical Faculty.

The study is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

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