Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Get a Life!: Civil service stress

The stress of civil service work has higher health risk, according to a British study.


Civil servants, especially those under 50 years of age, are proving that work can kill you.  At least, that may be the case for British civil servants.


Reuters news service reported that, in a 12-year study of some 10,000 British civil servants, workday stress greatly raised the risk of heart disease. 


Chronically stressed workers had a 68 percent higher risk of developing heart disease, and the link was strongest among people under 50.


Researchers measured stress among the civil servants by asking questions about job demands, such as how much control they had at work, how often they took breaks, and how pressed for time they were during the day.


Behavior and biological changes were cited as reasons that stress at work causes heart disease.  Workers under stress tend to eat unhealthy food, smoke, drink and skip exercise — all behaviors linked to heart disease.


In the study, stressed workers had lowered heart rate variability — a sign of a poorly-functioning heart — and higher-than-normal levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that provides a burst of energy for a fight-or-flight response.


The study adds to evidence that work stress and heart disease are causally related; i.e., work stress really does affect a person biologically. 


While we can’t extrapolate from Britain to what happens to federal workers, the news might make you want to dust off your New Year’s resolutions.


How stressed are you? Post a comment (registration required) or send an e-mail to letters@fcw.com (subject: Blog comment) and we will post it for you.

Posted by Judith Welles on Jan 29, 2008 at 12:13 PM


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