Does Your Job Increase the Risk of Heart Disease?

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A new study finds that certain occupations are especially hazardous to heart health. Find out which careers put you at risk.

Newly released research finds that workers in some occupations are at a greater risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke than workers in other fields.

The study, which was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology/Lifestyle 2016 meeting Tuesday, involved data on 5,566 employed men and women who were at least 45 years old. They did not have a history of heart disease or stroke at the beginning of the study.

Researchers evaluated the participants based on modifiable risk factors from the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7,” which refers to the nonprofit organization’s core recommendations for reducing heart disease and stroke risk. These factors include:

  • Blood pressure
  • Total cholesterol
  • Blood glucose
  • Smoking status
  • Body mass
  • Physical activity
  • Diet

The study found that people who work in sales, office support or service occupations have more risk factors than people who work in management or professional jobs.

Specifically, the findings include:

Transportation/material moving workers:

  • 22 percent were smokers (the highest smoking rate among the occupation groups studied)

Sales, office and administrative support workers:

  • 68 percent had poor eating habits
  • 69 percent of sales employees did not have ideal total cholesterol
  • 82 percent of office and administrative support workers did not have ideal scores for physical activity

Food preparation and serving workers:

  • 79 percent had poor diet quality (the worst diet profile among the occupation groups studied)

Protective service workers (includes police and firefighters):

  • 90 percent were likely to be overweight or obese
  • 77 percent did not have ideal total cholesterol levels
  • 35 percent had high blood pressure


  • Had the best cardiovascular health among the occupation groups studied thanks to factors such as body mass, activity level and smoking
  • 72 percent of white-collar professionals in business and finance had poor eating habits

To learn how your cardiovascular health rates based on the “Life’s Simple 7 “areas, check out the American Heart Association’s “My Life Check” tool.

What’s your take on the connection between a person’s occupation and risk for heart disease and stroke? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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