Hypertensive women with physically demanding jobs at three times risk of heart disease

February 14, 2016
heart
Human heart. Credit: copyright American Heart Association

Hypertensive women with highly active jobs have a nearly three times higher risk of ischaemic heart disease than women with normal blood pressure and moderately active jobs, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

"Previous research has shown that men and women with physically demanding jobs have an increased risk of ," said lead author Karen Allesøe, a PhD student at the University of Southern Denmark. "Lifting and carrying cause a rise in and may put people with hypertension at particular risk of a cardiovascular event. We wanted to investigate whether women with hypertension and physically demanding jobs have an especially high risk of heart disease."

The study included 12 093 female nurses from the 1993 Danish Nurse Cohort Study. Data on hypertension and physical activity at work were collected using a questionnaire. Physical activity at work was classified as sedentary, moderate (mainly standing and walking but not physically exerting), and high (standing or walking with some lifting or carrying; and heavy or fast and physically exerting).

Nurses with hypertension and high physical activity at work were compared to nurses with and moderate physical activity at work. The latter was deemed the most healthy combination as both high physical activity at work and long periods of sitting increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

During the 15 year follow up period, 580 nurses developed ischaemic heart disease. Nearly 12% reported having hypertension. Physical activity at work was reported as high in 46.3% of the nurses, moderate in 34.4% and sedentary in 19.3%.

The researchers found that hypertensive nurses with high physical activity at work had a nearly three times higher risk of ischaemic heart disease than nurses with normal blood pressure and at work (hazard ratio 2.87, 95% confidence interval 2.12-3.87).

Nurses with normal blood pressure and high physical activity at work had a small increased risk of heart disease (about 20%) but this was not statistically significant after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes and smoking.

The combination of hypertension and high physical activity at work increased the risk of more than adding the individual risks together. This was illustrated by the finding of around five additional cases of heart disease (per 10 000 person years) due to high physical activity at work and around 15 extra cases from hypertension. While 20 extra cases would be expected from the combination of hypertension and high physical activity at work, the researchers found more than 60 additional cases.

Ms Allesøe said: "This implies that there is an additive interaction between hypertension and high at work. The two risk factors appear to work together, resulting in an even greater incidence of heart disease. It means hypertensive women with physically demanding work may be especially at risk of heart disease. To our knowledge, this has not been shown before among women."

One possible explanation is the atherosclerotic pathway leading to heart disease. Physically demanding work causes rises in heart rate and blood pressure. A higher heart rate can lead to plaques in the arteries and atherosclerosis. Hypertension also causes atherosclerosis. In addition, lifting and carrying heavy loads may cause an acute rise in blood pressure that could be harmful in people with hypertension.

"For nurses, physically demanding jobs may involve high force demands during patient handling, or standing and walking all day with no time for breaks," said Ms Allesøe. "Our results may also apply to other occupations that require lifting or carrying heavy loads and standing or walking for many hours, but this needs to be confirmed in other studies."

She concluded: "We need more information on which aspects of physically demanding work are harmful. Until then we cannot make specific recommendations on how much lifting, and for how many hours, is safe for women with hypertension. If our findings are replicated in other studies there would be grounds for occupational health counselling for women with to ensure that the physical aspects of their jobs do not increase their risk of heart disease."

Explore further: Pregnant women with hypertension and their siblings face increased risk of heart disease

More information: Allesøe K, Søgaard K, Aadahl M, Boyle E, Holtermann A. Are hypertensive women at additional risk of ischaemic heart disease from physically demanding work? European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. DOI: 10.1177/2047487316631681

Related Stories

Pregnant women with hypertension and their siblings face increased risk of heart disease

August 27, 2015
High blood pressure during pregnancy is a risk factor for future hypertension and cardiovascular disease, but it's not clear if this increased risk is because these women are more likely to have a family history of heart ...

Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy increase risk for high blood pressure after delivery

January 28, 2016
Women who are diagnosed with hypertensive disorders while pregnant are more than twice as likely to develop high blood pressure in the first year after delivery as women who did not have any pregnancy-related hypertension, ...

Circadian misalignment helps explain higher risk for cardiovascular disease

February 8, 2016
Shift workers frequently undergo circadian misalignment, disruption of the "body clock," caused by inverted wake and sleep cycles. Although shift work, which requires workers to be awake when the brain's circadian clock is ...

Women active a few times weekly have lower risk of heart disease, stroke and blood clots

February 16, 2015
Middle-aged women who are physically active a few times per week have lower risks of heart disease, stroke and blood clots than inactive women, according to research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. ...

Demanding physical work associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease

April 18, 2013
Two studies presented at this year's EuroPRevent 2013 congress suggest that demanding physical work has a detrimental effect on an individual's risk of coronary heart disease.

Recommended for you

New molecule may hold the key to triggering the regeneration and repair of damaged heart cells

August 21, 2017
New research has discovered a potential means to trigger damaged heart cells to self-heal. The discovery could lead to groundbreaking forms of treatment for heart diseases. For the first time, researchers have identified ...

Researchers investigate the potential of spider silk protein for engineering artificial heart

August 18, 2017
Ever more people are suffering from cardiac insufficiency, despite significant advances in preventing and minimising damage to the heart. The main cause of reduced cardiac functionality lies in the irreversible loss of cardiac ...

Lasers used to detect risk of heart attack and stroke

August 18, 2017
Patients at risk of heart attacks and strokes may be spotted earlier thanks to a diagnosis tool that uses near-infrared light to identify high-risk arterial plaques, according to research carried out at WMG, University of ...

Cholesterol crystals are sure sign a heart attack may loom

August 17, 2017
A new Michigan State University study on 240 emergency room patients shows just how much of a role a person's cholesterol plays, when in a crystallized state, during a heart attack.

How Gata4 helps mend a broken heart

August 15, 2017
During a heart attack, blood stops flowing into the heart; starved for oxygen, part of the heart muscle dies. The heart muscle does not regenerate; instead it replaces dead tissue with scars made of cells called fibroblasts ...

Injectable tissue patch could help repair damaged organs

August 14, 2017
A team of U of T Engineering researchers is mending broken hearts with an expanding tissue bandage a little smaller than a postage stamp.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.