Occupational illnesses Research/studies Worker health and wellness

Heavy labor linked to heart disease: studies

Rome – Physically demanding work may increase the risk of heart disease, two European studies suggest.

A study from Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, compared the workloads of 500 people who had suffered a stroke or acute coronary event to 500 healthy people. Patients who experienced a stroke or coronary event were more likely to work in physically demanding jobs, according to a press release. Stress, low wages and lack of access to health care also may have been factors, researchers said.

In a separate study from Ghent University in Belgium, researchers tracked more than 14,000 middle-aged men, using questionnaires to assess job strain and physical activity. For men whose jobs were not physically demanding, engaging in moderate to high physical activity during leisure time was linked to a 60 percent lower risk of coronary events. However, men in labor-intensive jobs were 4 times more likely to develop heart disease when they exercised outside of work, the press release states.

Researchers said more research is needed to determine whether leisure time activity may overburden the hearts of workers already exhausted from manual labor.

The studies were presented in April at the European Society of Cardiology’s EuroPRevent 2013 Congress.