Science and Tech


Work Can Be Stressful, But Is Unemployment Worse?

A new study shows stress at work can be hard on your health, but people who are unemployed might be at even greater risk of health problems.
Posted at 3:54 PM, Aug 01, 2014

Work can be a stressful place — there's even a name for it, occupational stress. And a new study finds, depending on where you work, being on the job can be detrimental to your health. (Via Getty Images)

According to the study, published Friday, there are a lot of factors to consider. Things like job stress, exposure to air pollution like dust and secondhand smoke, noise — all raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. 

And certain types of jobs are more detrimental than others, too.

​​"Workers with a college degree were less likely than workers with less education to report a history of CHD/stroke." (Via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The study also explains it's easy to get caught in a vicious cycle. If you're a smoker and you're stressed out at work, you have more trouble quitting smoking. If you're already at risk for heart attack, a stressful job certainly won't help.

Gender was a factor, too — working men and former smokers were more at risk than working women and nonsmokers for heart disease and stroke. (Via CBS)

But what's perhaps more alarming is the chance of unemployed adults developing health issues. Among unemployed people looking for work, 2.5 percent had an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and those not looking for a job jumped to 6.3 percent.  

It's long been known unemployment can do a number on your health — according to previous studies, unemployed individuals are more likely to become obese, have high blood pressure and develop other dangerous conditions. (Via PsychCentral, New York Daily News, Drexel UniversityHealthDay)

According to the CDC, heart disease remains the leading cause of death among Americans — a stat that led a professor of cardiology to remind HealthDay preventative steps should be taken within the workplace. 


"Implement and take advantage of comprehensive workplace wellness programs and better utilize effective interventions to prevent heart disease and stroke."

It's important to note there were limitations during the research for this study, and no cause-and-effect link between employment status and heart health was found, only an association.