In a recent study from Laval University in Quebec, researchers found office workers who spend long hours on the job are more likely to have high blood pressure, including a type that can go undetected during a routine medical appointment.
High blood pressure affects nearly half of Americans ages 18 and older and is a primary factor in more than 82,000 deaths per year.
Approximately 15-30% of U.S. adults have a type of the condition called masked hypertension, meaning their high blood pressure readings are normal during health care visits but elevated when measured elsewhere.
The new study, the team examined more than 3,500 white-collar employees at three public institutions in Quebec. These institutions generally provide insurance services to the general population.
Compared with colleagues who worked fewer than 35 hours a week:
Working 49 or more hours each week was linked to a 70% greater likelihood of having masked hypertension and 66% greater likelihood of having sustained hypertension- elevated blood pressure readings in and out of a clinical setting.
Working between 41 and 48 hours each week was linked to a 54% greater likelihood of having masked hypertension and 42% greater likelihood of having sustained hypertension.
The team says both masked and sustained high blood pressure are linked to higher heart disease risk.
The observed associations accounted for job strain, a work stressor defined as a combination of high work demands and low decision-making authority. However, other related stressors might have an impact.
Future research could examine whether family responsibilities — such as a worker’s number of children, household duties and childcare role — might interact with work circumstances to explain high blood pressure.
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The study is published in Hypertension. One author of the study is Xavier Trudel, Ph.D.
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