Increase in blood pressure has been associated with psychological and emotional stress. But how does stress in the job affect blood pressure? This has been the subject of numerous research studies over the years but the results are conflicting. In this post, I am reviewing 3 studies on 3 different types of workers in Japan.
In Japan, the number of managerial employees suffering from cardiovascular disease is said to be higher than any other type of employee. A study of Japanese employed managers and retired managers showed that these people in the management suffer from masked hypertension. The disadvantage of masked hypertension as compared to sustained hypertension is that it often goes undiagnosed so that the people affected are not taking preventive measures or early treatment.
The author concludes that
“job stress seemed to be one of the main causes of masked hypertension…that more frequent measurements of [blood pressure] at the work place are necessary to identify subjects with masked hypertension.”
This study looked at 352 male factory workers in Japan to evaluate the relationship between “job strain and subclinical indicators of arteriosclerosis.” Subclinical indicators are early indicators before the actual symptoms are actually observed in the clinical setting. The researchers measured these in cerebral artery, the aorta, and the carotid artery. The results show that job strain was associated with the indicators but the association was not significant.
This study which looked at Japanese male employees suggests that shift work may elevate both systolic and diastolic blood pressure – in other words increased risk for hypertension.
That’s what industrialization is all about – 24-hour, non-stop operations in factories and manufacturing plants. To keep companies running, employees have to work in shifts day and night. It is estimated that about a quarter of Japanese companies operate on shifts.
The researchers studied 3963 day workers and 2748 alternating shift workers working in a Japanese steel company. All the workers were male and had annual health check ups between 1991 and 2005.
Looking at the relative increases in blood pressure, the researchers reported that alternating shift workers have significantly higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure than their colleagues working during normal day hours.
The authors conclude that
“[the] study in male Japanese workers revealed that alternating shift work was a significant independent risk factor for an increase in blood pressure. Moreover, the effect of shift work on blood pressure was more pronounced than other well-established factors, such as age and body mass index.”
Photo credit: Workers by createsima at stock.xchng