Men with recent acute coronary syndromes who deemed their work environment to be unhealthy estimated that it would take a long time to get back on the job. (Photo: Colourbox)

Poor work environment linked to heart troubles

Men who recently experienced a heart attack think their work environment contributed to their cardiovascular problems.

Substantial evidence supports associations between impairing psychosocial work characteristics and a variety of ill-health outcomes; such as cardiovascular and ischemic heart disease.

This has been confirmed by a study the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy.

High demands, low appreciation

One sign of a poor psychosocial work environment is when employees feel loads of pressure to perform and little opportunity to control their work tasks. Another is when they think their efforts are insufficiently appreciated.

Work pressure that is deemed disproportionate to benefits and is not compensated for by a good work environment can be demotivating.

Men in a Swedish study who had recently had heart attacks or anginas, and felt their work environments were poor, figured that it would take a long time to recuperate and get back to their jobs, explains Mia Söderberg in a press release about her study.

Warning sign

Men who have no heart problems but find their work environments lacking often experience warning signals of future heart disease. Examples are high blood pressure and elevated levels of harmful cholesterol.

Söderberg found that these men also switch jobs more often than women do.

Stress worse for men?

“We only found this link among men. This could be attributed to gender divisions in the labour market. Women and men generally tend to work in different occupational categories and their opportunities for influencing their job situations can vary,” says Söderberg.

She thinks that the combination of job stress and housework/child care can also have more of an impact on women’s health than on men’s.

The modern Swedish labour market is no longer dominated by industry. The emphasis is increasingly on knowledge processes and contact with other people.

“When it comes to work related health problems, we’ve seen a shift in focus from physical risk factors to a greater need for analysing psychosocial factors,” says Söderberg.

Healthy and sick participants

Her study includes responses from 509 persons with acute cardiovascular disease, comprising all the conditions when clogged arteries – arteriosclerosis – suddenly results in an insufficient blood supply to the heart.

In addition, nearly 2,500 randomly selected residents of the greater Gothenburg area and over 75,000 male Swedes in the construction trade responded to questionnaires.


Read the article in Norwegian at

Translated by: Glenn Ostling

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