Well Being

You Already Know Working Too Much Is Bad For Your Happiness, But It’s Also Bad For Your Heart

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unhappyworker

Burned out on your job? You may have a higher risk of heart disease. A new study from Tel Aviv University linked job burnout with coronary heart disease (CHD), a buildup of plaque in the arteries which can lead to heart attacks and other heart problems.

According to Consumer Affairs:

Over the course of the study, a total of 8,838 apparently healthy employed men and women between the ages of 19 and 67 who presented for routine health examinations were followed for an average of 3.4 years. Each participant was measured for burnout levels and examined for signs of CHD. The researchers controlled for typical risk factors for the disease, such as sex, age, family history of heart disease, and smoking.

And the results were telling. Burnout was associated with a 40% increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. In addition, the 20% of participants with the highest burnout scores were shown to have a 79% risk. The doctor who was in charge of the study, Dr. Sharon Toker, said the results were more alarming than expected, and associate stress and burnout more closely with CHD than other risk factors, like smoking and physical activity level.

This isn't necessarily new information; stress has long been linked to heart disease. But I'm hoping that, as information like this continues to be revealed, studies like this will actually affect the ways that our society views work-life balance. I just feel like the 24/7 work culture that's currently prized in the US is not sustainable. It does more harm than good to everyone, as far as I can tell (I know I'm generalizing, but just go with me here). Desk jobs are hurting our bodies and our minds, many workplaces aren't friendly to women, and most people are unhappy with their employment.

There has to be a way to create a productive work culture without hurting workers' mental and physical health in the process.  Perhaps this shift also needs to happen more on an individual level, with people making a personal choice to have more of a work-life balance.  But Dr. Toker says the results of her study can have powerful implications for preventative care: for health care professionals to monitor patients for signs of burnout and for people themselves to take better care of their own physical and emotional health.

Photo: Shutterstock

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