The job may surprise you!
Written by: Emily Lind
Medically reviewed by: Rob Philibert, MD PhD
No matter what your job is, there are always days when it feels like the work is killing you. But did you know that your job might literally be increasing your risk of heart disease?
It’s well known that some types of jobs are associated with increased heart disease. High-stress jobs with a lot of overtime work and shift changes are known to be bad for your heart health. During the current pandemic, it’s hard to think of a more stressful job than nursing. And anyone who’s seen a video of Black Friday sales can’t be surprised that retail cashiers have such a high risk of heart disease.
It’s no surprise, then, that high-stress, overtime-prone shift work jobs in retail, nursing, healthcare, and social work are associated with increased heart disease in women, even when controlling for age, marital status, education, and race.
Figure 1. Social workers, retail cashiers, and nurses have an increased risk of heart disease, while real estate brokers and administrative assistants have reduced risk. Data from here.
Why does heart health matter for women?
When most people picture a heart attack, they think of a middle-aged man clutching their chest. However, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States – 1 in 5 female deaths are from heart disease.
Women have different symptoms of heart attacks than men. For example, women are more likely to have shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness and fatigue during heart attacks. Many women think they’re tired or simply have the flu, when in reality they are in severe danger.
Women are also more likely to be misdiagnosed. Doctors mistake their symptoms for signs of panic disorder, stress, or even hypochondria.
How can I check my heart health?
The study which found increased heart disease in certain professions used seven key indicators. You can use Life’s Simple 7 to assess your own heart health! Some of these variables will require help from a healthcare practitioner.
- Manage your blood pressure
- Control your cholesterol levels
- Reduce blood sugar
- Get active and exercise
- Eat better and maintain a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Stop smoking
Life’s simple seven misses important details:
Unfortunately, Life’s Simple Seven aren’t quite as simple as they appear. Constant anxiety over weight, diet and exercise is draining. And if you (like many patients) are nervous in a doctor’s office, your blood pressure reading might be plain wrong. Furthermore, all it takes is using the wrong sized cuff or positioning the patient wrong to get an inaccurate blood pressure reading.
Cholesterol testing is also frequently over-performed and is easily influenced by small changes in diet. Eating too much unhealthy fat can give you a worse score. If you cut out all fats completely from your diet, you might accidentally remove ‘healthy’ fats and still end up with a bad test result. Cholesterol tests are even trickier for women because menopause impacts blood lipid levels.
Glucose testing to monitor your blood sugar levels is also prone to errors. If you test too soon after a meal, you can have artificially higher blood sugar levels. Patient-accessible blood glucose monitors are easily fooled – all it takes is touching orange before the finger prick. The trace amounts of increased sugar on your fingertip are enough to spike your glucose levels.
What can I do instead to monitor my heart health?
One option for Americans seeking better prevention is through the use of Epi+Gen CHD test from Cardio Diagnostics Inc. Hailed as the Clinical Diagnostics Solution of the Year, the test is accessible from the comfort of your own home through telemedicine appointments with doctors. Epi+Gen CHD tests both your genetic and epigenetic risk of heart disease. To learn more, you can read our blogs. The Epi+Gen CHD test can better predict your 3-year risk of CHD than the standard lipid tests offered by most doctors. In particular, for women it is 40% more likely to predict a heart heart attack. It’s never been easier to understand your true risk of heart disease. For more information on how to order an Epi+Gen CHD test for yourself or the police officer in your life, visit Elicity.