Stress at work can be a real killer, literally. New research from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, compared different jobs and their associated stress levels with the incidence of strokes.
They divided jobs into four groups:
- Passive jobs, which they categorised as having low demand and low control, such as miners and other manual labourers;
- Low stress jobs, which have low demand and high control, such as natural scientists and architects;
- High stress jobs with high demand and low control, such as those in the service industry and nursing aides; and
- Active jobs, which were high demand and high control, including doctors, teachers and engineers.
The researchers collected data over a period of three to 17 years, and what they discovered is that people with very stressful jobs have a 22 per cent higher risk of any kind of stroke. For the most common kind of stroke – where blood flow is blocked due to fatty deposits – the incidence of strokes increases to 58 per cent for those in high-stress jobs compared to those in low-stress jobs.
Women are particularly susceptible, with high-stress jobs making them 33 per cent more vulnerable to strokes than women whose working lives were calmer.
While stressful jobs can lead to poor eating habits and other unhealthy behaviour, the researchers found that those in stressful jobs who also had a healthy lifestyle still have a 25 per cent higher risk of stroke than those in low-stress jobs.
People whose jobs were either termed as passive or active didn’t have any increased risk. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare web report released earlier this month, shows that not only were 1,791 deaths from stroke and cerebrovascular disease in 2012 premature, they were also considered potentially avoidable — that is, preventable or treatable through specific healthcare measures.
All of which makes World Stroke Day this Thursday, 29 October, something for HR to get behind. Their First Hour campaign recognises the critical importance time plays in treating strokes.
First Hour Ambassador Medtronic Managing Director Jamie Stanistreet is leading the organisation’s participation after becoming aware of the huge social and economic impact of stroke.
“There are many faces of stroke within our community. Nearly 30 percent of stroke survivors are of working age and stroke has an enormous economic and social impact on the individual, their family, friends and the broader community,’’ Stanistreet says.
Stanistreet encourages other organisations to be involved with the First Hour initiative.
“With one stroke every 10 minutes in this country, the chance that someone you know has or will be impacted by stroke is very high. I encourage all organisations to get involved. The more people who know the signs of stroke and how to act fast, the better,’’ he says.
Medtronic is supporting First Hour by educating its employees on stroke and its signs, as well as delivering free health checks to help staff find out more about their stroke risk and how to manage it.
National Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Dr Erin Lalor said First Hour recognised the significant impact of stroke in people of working age.
“In addition to the heavy toll of human suffering caused by this largely preventable killer, stroke also has a devastating economic impact,” Lalor says. “Around 130,000 stroke survivors in the community are of working age. This represents a massive loss of national productivity as a result of people dropping out of the workforce.”
How to check for signs of a stroke
The FAST test is an easy way to recognise and remember the signs of stroke. Using the
FAST test involves asking these simple questions:
Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms – Can they lift both arms?
Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away.
Register online to join First Hour at www.strokefoundation.com.au