Job stress increases the risk of heart disease, but living a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce that risk, a new study says.
Mika Kivimaki and colleagues pooled individual-level data for more than 100 000 men and women in 7 prospective cohort studies.
Their lifestyles were rated in one of three categories -- healthy, moderately unhealthy or unhealthy -- based on 4 lifestyle risk factors: current smoking, physical inactivity, heavy drinking and obesity.
The researchers found that participants who reported job strain and a healthy lifestyle (no lifestyle risk factors) at baseline had about half the incidence of coronary disease* as those with job strain and 1 or more lifestyle risk factors.
"The risk of coronary artery disease was highest among participants who reported job strain and an unhealthy lifestyle; those with job strain and a healthy lifestyle had about half the rate of this disease," Dr. Kivimaki, of the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London
Evidence from randomized controlled trials has shown that lifestyle changes such as weight loss and stopping smoking can reduce the risk of disease.
"In addition to stress counselling, clinicians might consider paying closer attention to lifestyle risk factors in patients who report job strain," the authors conclude.
* defined as first nonfatal myocardial infarction or cardiac-related death
The above story is based on the May 13, 2013 news release by Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The results of the study was published online in the Canadian Medical Association Journal:
Kivimäki M et al. Associations of job strain and lifestyle risk factors with risk of coronary artery disease: a meta-analysis of individual participant data. CMAJ May 13, 2013 doi: 10.1503/cmaj.121735