Cardiovascular Risks: Is Your Job a Factor?

Industries and sectors with an elevated risk of heart disease

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, heart disease is the most common cause of death among both the working and non-working population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease. Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) estimates approximately 10,000 sudden cardiac arrests strike while individuals are in the workplace each year. And many risk factors are based on a person’s lifestyle, including their work environment. Different industries present varying degrees of risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Risk factors such as diet and exercise are controllable, however, for some professions, the risks are intrinsic to the job.

4 job-related risk factors for heart disease

Before delving into the specific industries, it’s important to understand conditions that can contribute to poor cardiovascular health.

  1. Chemicals. High levels of exposure to chemicals such as carbon disulfide, methylene chloride, and nitrate esters are thought to contribute to cardiovascular disease.
  2. Stress. Whether it stems from demanding supervisors or clients, excessive workloads, or tedium, most jobs come equipped with built-in stressors. Studies have shown a relationship between work-related stress and cholesterol concentrations, as well as the development of CVD.
  3. Exposure to extreme temperatures. For workers already suffering from CVD, workplace exposure to heat can cause a reduction in blood supply to the heart. On the other side of the extreme, working in cold storage or freezing weather may cause coronary artery spasms even in otherwise healthy people.
  4. Noise. Extensive exposure to noise over 80 decibels can cause an increase in blood pressure. Additional factors include unpredictable loud noises and noises that are disharmonious or don’t contribute to the job in a meaningful way, such as in factories or on construction sites.

4 high-risk industries

Each field contains its own blend of the above-mentioned risk factors. The following industries are thought to be at greatest risk for CVD.

  1. Hospitality. In addition to the stress associated with customer demands, those employed by hotels, restaurants, and bars tend to work irregular shifts. The disruption of sleep patterns presented by inconsistent schedules has been shown to increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  2. Desk jobs. While not a specific industry, sitting at a desk all day can affect how our bodies process glucose and burn fat. Multiple studies suggest that sitting for more than half the day doubles the risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
  3. Protective services. A CDC study reported that 90 percent of police, firefighters, and security guards are overweight; 77 percent had high cholesterol, and 35 percent suffered hypertension (high blood pressure). In addition, these professions also present officers and firefighters with life-or-death situations that contribute to stress-related CVD.
  4. Wholesale. While the direct link to heart disease in this field is unclear, long hours may contribute to the 2.9 percent of workers in the field who suffered heart disease or stroke.

How to protect Florida’s workers

Changes in lifestyle, such as diet and exercise, can significantly reduce the risk of CVD. While such changes are up to the individual, there are ways companies can contribute to employee health through wellness programs, as well as prepare for job-site heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrests. CPR training and on site automatic electronic defibrillators (AEDs) can increase survival rates by up to 70%.

One Beat CPR + AED offers individual and group training courses in both CPR and AED use. For more information about our American Heart Association-authorized training centers, we encourage you to connect with us online or at 954-321-5305.