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Studies show certain jobs can take a toll on women’s heart health

A large study older woman found that certain jobs, including several in health care, were linked to poor heart health for women.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The phrase heart disease includes several heart conditions and it's usually considered a man’s problem. 

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year. 

That’s approximately one woman every minute.

It is well documented that an unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle and smoking contribute to these statistics. 

Yet this may or may not surprise you but recent studies have shown a link between you job and health problems. For example, one study that researchers conducted on a group from Japan found that individuals in managerial positions, regardless of industry, face a higher risk of heart disease.

According to the U.S Department of Labor, there are 74.6 million women in the civilian labor force. Nearly half of these workers are women.  With more women working and the rates of heart disease in women. Occupation may have not received as much attention as it may deserve.

Researchers from Drexel University in Philadelphia wanted to learn how work affects heart disease and other cardiovascular problems in women. 

Their research will be presented at the American Heart Associations Scientific Sessions 2019. The Association’s Scientific Sessions is an annual, premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

Researchers investigated how various jobs related to heart health among more than 65,000 postmenopausal women with an average age 63.  They reviewed the 20 most common occupations and classified participants in terms of the American Heart cardiovascular health metrics, which includes four health behaviors (smoking, weight, physical activity and nutrition) and three health risk factors (total cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting blood sugar).

They found some women’s jobs were more likely to have heart problems or cardiovascular issues.

Compared to women in other occupations:

Social workers were 36% more likely to have poor heart health.

Retail cashiers were 33% more likely to have poor heart health.

Women in some health care roles were up to 16% more likely to have poor heart health, especially in the areas of nursing and psychiatry and home health aides. Registered nurses had a 14% increased risk of poor cardiovascular health.

Conversely, the researchers found that female real estate brokers and sales agents were 24% less likely and administrative assistants were 11% less likely to have poor cardiovascular health compared to women in other occupations. All statistical analyses were adjusted for age, marital status, education and race.

The study didn’t try to learn why , but Professor and Chief of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at University of Texas MB Galveston, Doctor Abe DeAnda, Jr, M.D. says“  The question is whether the job promotes stress (which might lead to smoking, poor nutritional choices, high blood pressure) or is time consuming (which might impact level of physical activity like going to the gym).”

The study authors say this research helps identify specific occupations that might benefit from workplace health programs to improve heart health.

There are several misconceptions about heart disease in women, and they could be putting you at risk. As with men women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely than men to experience some symptoms particularly shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain.

The take way, the American Heart Association encourages women to talk with their doctor and know your risk.