Stress at work leads to a heart attack

DAK health report: High risk of heart attack due to office stress

Although the number of people who die of heart attacks is falling in western industrialized countries, this is primarily due to improved diagnostic and treatment options. In addition, nicotine consumption has decreased significantly, especially among men. Hospitalizations due to heart attacks have not decreased for a long time. According to the current DAK health report, office stress is one of the key factors for a high risk of heart attack.

The heart also suffers from depression and burnout
The heart suffers from the constantly increasing pressure in the workplace. Doctors therefore warn against too much stress in professional life. This caused the heart attack rate to rise significantly above. According to the health report, more than 207,000 heart attacks occur in Germany every year. The DAK health chief Prof. Dr. Herbert Rebscher believes it is very likely that the growing psychosocial stress in the professional life of many workers is responsible for heart attacks. The new technology, which includes the mobile Internet, could also be one of the causes. "It is important to draw the first conclusions here," warns Rebscher. He believes that mental illnesses such as depression or burnout syndrome should be given more attention. "We have to see what preventive, preventive and preventive measures are good." Research has long shown that depression increases the risk of a heart attack by 60 to 100 percent. So far, doctors and politicians have primarily warned of the dangers of alcohol, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, lack of exercise and diabetes. So far, psychological stresses and disorders have largely been ignored in the debates and educational campaigns.

Norbert Smetak, Federal Chairman of the Federal Association of Resident Cardiologists in Munich, adds: "When stress is raised, the pulse and blood pressure rise, among other things, and the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released." The high hormone levels could burst deposits in the coronary arteries and so on trigger an acute heart attack.

In the case of a myocardial infarction, which is colloquially called heart attack, those affected usually notice a severe pain in the chest area that lasts for more than 20 minutes. The pain in the shoulders, lower jaw, arms and upper abdomen often radiate. This is occasionally accompanied by cold sweat of fear, dizziness and drowsiness. The symptoms can also be very atypical. Women often fail to notice a heart attack because the leading symptom is abdominal pain. The survival rate depends on age, general health and fast medical emergency care. Over 50 percent die of an infarct before arriving in a clinic.

Survey study on the connection between work stress and heart attack In order to determine whether there is a context between heart attack and the world of work, the health fund has launched a representative survey of 3000 employees. The experts came to a surprising result. With ongoing media coverage and political debates, many believe that employee health is poor. However, only one in ten (9.3 percent) said that he was suffering from a so-called gratification crisis. This crisis describes a professional stress that arises from poor recognition and poor pay. A gratification crisis therefore shows up when “employees no longer get the reward in proportion to their effort”. Research had shown that there is a high risk of heart attack for those affected by this type of crisis. "The greater self-determination and design options in the workplace, the less this problem occurs," explains Rebscher when the DAK Report was presented. Especially skilled workers and workers suffer from the phenomenon with a share of a good 11.2 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively. There is "need for action in the companies," the health expert warns.

Time pressure and stress put a strain on people One in five of the survey stated that they felt burdened due to the strong time pressure and the high workload. Ten percent said that the overtime required was perceived as stressful. The DAK suspects that the growing psychosocial demands are related to the increasing number of sick leave due to mental illness. "Given the aging workforce, there is a particular risk potential for cardiovascular diseases," says Rebscher. 22.2 percent complain about a lack of a good balance between remuneration and work performed. This also leads to symptoms of stress. 17 percent say that the bosses give them too little recognition and 15 percent find their work situation to be extremely stressful due to actual and feared deterioration.

Taking work home increases the risk of heart attack A third of the participants stated that they took the work home with them. Not switching off and taking activities with you turns out to be a significant risk factor for heart attacks. A key factor is that many workers take their work home because they can no longer do the work. For this reason, anyone who relocates work to their home office also has twice the risk of a mismatch between effort and reward. Therefore, those affected are exposed to a higher risk of myocardial infarction. However, if you take work home with you, for example to better balance family and work, you have a low risk because the work is made more pleasant.

Those who are in a gratification crisis rate their own health condition significantly worse than others. 50 percent more than in comparison to others said that their health was worse. In addition to self-assessment, the state of health is actually worse in reality. Many of those affected suffer from mood swings, fears or helplessness. Headaches and sleep disorders are about twice as common as others. Instead of becoming aware of their own situation, "they don't care about their health more than other employees," explains Rebscher. Companies should take countermeasures with “company health management”, the health expert demands. The health insurance company would be happy to help. (sb)

Also read:
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Lack of sleep promotes stroke and heart attack

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