People who reported work-related stress were more likely to be hospitalised for peripheral artery disease compared to those who did not report work-related stress, according to a study.
Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a cardiovascular disease that occurs when cholesterol or other fatty substances in the blood build up in the blood vessels away from the heart, usually the legs, impeding blood flow.
Worldwide, peripheral artery disease affects more than 200 million people. Previous studies have linked work-related stress to other forms of the atherosclerotic disease; however, few have specifically analysed its effects on peripheral artery disease.
Link between work-related stress and artery disease
The current research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, focused on the relationship between work-related stress and hospital treatment for peripheral artery disease.
"Our findings suggest that work-related stress may be a risk factor for peripheral artery disease in a similar way as it is for heart disease and stroke," said lead study author Katriina Heikkila from Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
For the results, the researchers evaluated the records of 139,000 men and women participating in 11 separate studies from 1985-2008 in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK. Participants included in the analysis had no previous history of peripheral artery disease when the respective studies began.
Stress could be contributing to complications
Individual information for each participant included age, sex, BMI, smoker or nonsmoker, alcohol consumption, physical activity level, diabetes status, socioeconomic position, data on hospitalisations and the questionnaire on work-related stress. During an average 12.8 years of follow up, 667 people (0.2 to 1.8 percent of participants) were hospitalised for peripheral artery disease.
Researchers found that people with work-related stress were 1.4 times as likely as those without work-related stress to have a record of peripheral artery disease in the hospitalisation register, after adjusting for age, sex and lifestyle variables.
Stress is associated with increased inflammation and higher blood glucose levels. So, although there is limited evidence linking work-related stress to heart disease, stress could be contributing to complications and exacerbations of peripheral artery disease, the study said. Overall, nearly one-fourth of participants with no previous hospitalisation for peripheral artery disease reported work-related stress at the beginning of the 11 studies, the researchers noted.