May 03, 2013
2 min read

Physically demanding occupations increased risk for CV events

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Results from two recent studies presented at EuroPrevent 2013 suggest that people with physically demanding jobs have a higher risk for CVD than those with less physically demanding occupations.

In the first study, Demosthenes Panagiotakos, PhD, associate professor of biostatistics-epidemiology at Harokopio University in Athens, and colleagues collected information on the occupations of 1,000 participants and measured their likelihood for acute coronary events. At baseline, 250 participants had a first stroke, 250 had a first acute coronary event and 500 served as controls. Occupations were assessed based on a 9-unit scale (1= physically demanding work, 9=sedentary work). The researchers also collected data on confounding factors such as age, sex, BMI, smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, family history of CVD and adherence to the Mediterranean diet.

Results showed that less physically demanding jobs were linked with a lower likelihood of experiencing an acute coronary event (OR=0.81; 95% CI, 0.72-0.91) or ischemic stroke event (OR=0.83; 95% CI, 0.72-0.96).

Results from a second study conducted by Els Clay, PhD, of University of Ghent, Belgium, and colleagues indicated a similar trend, even after accounting for leisure-time activities.

The researchers administered questionnaires to 14,337 middle-aged men without CHD designed to assess sociodemographic factors, job strain, and the level of physical activity engaged in during work and leisure time. After 3.15 years of follow-up, 87 new coronary events were recorded, 20 of which were fatal attacks. The researchers observed an interaction effect in which moderate to high physical activity during leisure time was associated with a 60% reduced risk for coronary events in men with low occupational physical activity (HR=0.4; 95% CI, 0.21-0.76). However, the same effect was not noted in men with physically demanding occupations (age-adjusted HR=1.67; 95% CI, 0.63-4.48). Risk for CHD was also more than four times higher for men with physically demanding jobs who engaged in physical activity during leisure time (HR=4.77; 95% CI, 1.54-14.75).

“From a public health perspective, it is very important to know whether people with physically demanding jobs should be advised to engage in leisure time activity,” Clay stated in a press release. “The results of this study suggest that additional physical activity during leisure time in those who are already physically exhausted from their daily occupation does not induce a ‘training’ effect but rather an overloading effect on the CV system. However, only a few studies until now have specifically addressed this interaction among both types of physical activity and conflicting findings have been reported. More research using detailed and objective measures of activity is needed.”

For more information:

Clay E. Abstract P76.

Panagiotakos D. Abstract P67. Both presented at: EuroPrevent; April 18-20, 2013; Rome.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.