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Women and Work Stress
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A 2010 study found that "women with high levels of job strain have a significantly higher risk of suffering a heart attack”. This finding was of no surprise to women on the WomenHeart Online Support Community — in fact, you could almost sense a collective raised eyebrow and ironic chuckle in the comments from our Heart Sisters.

Lidia S. noted that the advice from Dr. Michelle Albert, the study’s senior investigator from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, that women should be "physically active, have a social support network, and carve out time for relaxation” was nice, but felt that it was unrealistic. "In a perfect world, maybe?” said Lidia. "I remember all too clearly falling through my front door well after 6 pm, loaded down with shopping bags, having to cook a meal and help the kids with their homework and do what needed to be done before collapsing into bed. My weekends were spent trying to put a small dent in the heap of guilt I carried by spending some time with my children and catching up on all the neglected domestic chores.”

Interestingly, Melissa, another Heart Sister, commented that nearly half the women with whom she attended WomenHeart’s Science and Leadership Symposium earlier this year were employed as either nurses or teachers — two high-stress occupations. Voicing her frustration, another Heart Sister wrote that, after 20 years working in the same dental office, her employers told her that they could not guarantee that she could retain her full-time job with health benefits after she requested a 4-week leave of absence to schedule tests and try to manage several pulmonary health issues, including PAD. "I simply cannot imagine doing this type of work for another 10 years,” she said. "Yet I cannot afford to lose my good health insurance.”

Managing stress is key to good heart health, however, and there are ways to create a more balanced life, one day at a time. Click here for tips to reduce stress.


Women with job stress at higher risk of heart attack

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) patient advocacy organization with thousands of members nationwide, including women heart patients and their families, health care providers, advocates and consumers committed to helping women live longer, healthier lives. WomenHeart supports, educates and advocates on behalf of the nearly 48 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease. Our programs are made possible by donations, grants and corporate partnerships.

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WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease is a founding partner of The Heart Truth Red Dress campaign. The Heart Truth and Red Dress are trademarks of HHS.