The study by Chantal Guimont of Laval University in Quebec, Canada asked more than 6,700 male and female white-collar workers, aged 18 to 65, questions about their physical activity level, smoking history and other potential factors that might heighten their risks of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. The study also asked participants if those two conditions ran in the family, according to Reuters.
The study asked participants about their social and work life, and gave them blood pressure tests.
“We found that cumulative exposure to job strain resulted in significant increases in systolic blood pressure among male white-collar workers, especially those with low levels of social support at work,” Guimont, of Laval University in Quebec City, and her colleagues wrote in the scholarly journal, according to Reuters.
When Guimont followed up with the participants seven and a half years later, the men exposed to high levels of job strain throughout the course of the study posted blood pressures that were nearly two points above that of men who admitted no pressure from job strain – an increase comparable to that observed among men with sedentary behavior.
Men with the most job strain were one third more likely to experience an increase in blood pressure.
According to Reuters, those men who reported a high level of stress during the follow-up questioning but not during the first round of testing were 40% more likely to have increased blood pressures. The association was similar for women, but the effects were more pronounced among men, the researchers note.
In other findings, men and women with low levels of support from their supervisors and/or co-workers were at an even higher risk of increased blood pressure. Among those with high social support, high levels of job stress did not appear to be associated with increased blood pressures.