How Work Stress Can Kill You

The Bottom Line: An unhealthy workplace can create unhealthy stress which can be debilitating.

I read a lot of journals and articles and try to keep up with things.  As I come across what I think is useful information, I’ll pass it along if I think it can be of benefit to you. 

Here’s a topic that is interesting, if only because the condition of atrial fibrillation (afib) affects a great number of us and most of us are unaware that we suffer from it.  It is also important because many people suffer strokes or die as a result of afib and the condition is either preventable through lifestyle and workplace changes or can be managed through medical avenues. 

Symptoms of afib include heart palpitations, weak erratic heartbeat, physical weakness, fatigue, feeling light headed, dizziness, shortness of breath and sometimes just feeling ‘strange’ and ‘not right’.  If you have ever felt any of these symptoms, you will want to consult your family doctor for a quick checkup.  It may just be a transitory stress reaction or even dehydration, but the cause doesn’t matter.  It can still kill you.

But, on with the story.  Traci Pedersen of the European Society of Cardiology wrote an interesting article about atrial fibrillation (afib), the dangers of afib, and how your work can contribute to this dangerous condition that happens to be present in well over 25% of us (personally, I think it’s way over 25%).

According to the study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, work-related stress is linked to a 48 percent higher risk of atrial fibrillation!  (For this study, work stress was defined as job strain, which reflects jobs with high psychological demands combined with low control over the work situation).  Awareness of this study result is important because atrial fibrillation causes 20-30 percent of all strokes, and one in four middle-aged adults in Europe and the U.S. will develop atrial fibrillation.  Quite clearly, if your job is contributing to your stress, you have to do something about it. 

It was concluded that work stress is a major risk factor for atrial fibrillation.  In addition, work stress has also been linked with coronary heart disease and is considered to be a modifiable risk factor for preventing a number of cardiovascular conditions. 

Because our workplaces consume us for a good portion of our waking lives and usually at least 7 – 8 hours each weekday, if unreasonable, unhealthy stress is identified as a part of your employment, perhaps it’s time to take action – fight or flight.  That means either change the work conditions or the people you work with … or leave the job.  Make a decision and act on it.  Your physical and mental health cannot be jeopardized.

And very importantly, if you experience ongoing symptoms of afib see your doctor immediately. There are medical methods to help regulate your heart rate while you work on the stress-related sources of the issue.