Having a physically demanding job and high blood pressure may triple a woman’s risk of heart disease, a new study contends.
Researchers looked at more than 12,000 female nurses in Denmark, and found that those with high blood pressure and highly active jobs were much more likely to develop heart disease than those with normal blood pressure and moderately active jobs.
“Previous research has shown that men and women with physically demanding jobs have an increased risk of heart disease,” said study author Karen Allesoe, a Ph.D. student at the University of Southern Denmark.
“The two risk factors appear to work together, resulting in an even greater incidence of heart disease,” Allesoe said. “To our knowledge, this has not been shown before among women.”
However, the study only showed an association for heart disease risk, not a cause-and-effect relationship.
The study defined high-activity jobs as those that included standing and walking with lifting, carrying and other physical exertion. Moderately active jobs involved mainly standing and walking with no physical exertion.
“Lifting and carrying cause a rise in blood pressure, and may put people with hypertension [high blood pressure] at particular risk of a cardiovascular event,” Allesoe said.
The study was published Feb. 14 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
“For nurses, physically demanding jobs may involve high-force demands during patient handling, or standing and walking all day with no time for breaks,” Allesoe said in a journal news release. “Our results may also apply to other occupations that require lifting or carrying heavy loads and standing or walking for many hours, but this needs to be confirmed in other studies.
“We need more information on which aspects of physically demanding work are harmful. Until then we cannot make specific recommendations on how much lifting, and for how many hours, is safe for women with hypertension,” she said.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health explains how to reduce heart risks.