(Reuters Health). People who are being bullied or are being abused at work may be more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases than people who cannot cope with these problems at work, suggests a European study.
The researchers studied data from more than 79,000 working men and women aged 19 to 65 who did not have heart disease. Overall, about 9 percent of them reported being bullied, and 13 percent said they were subjected to violence at work last year.
After an average follow-up of more than 12 years, 3,229 people, or about 4% of the workers in the study, were diagnosed with heart disease or hospitalized due to events such as a heart attack or stroke.
Workers who were bullied at work were 59 percent more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease or hospitalized for heart attacks or strokes than those who were not bullied, the study said. And the abused workers were 25% more likely to develop heart disease or hospitalized due to related events.
“If we can eliminate violence in the workplace and violence in the workplace, the impact on cardiovascular disease prevention will be similar if we prevent diabetes and risky alcohol use,” said study author Tianwei Xu from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
Difficult working conditions, including workload and excessive hours, have long been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, but studies to date have not provided a clear idea of the role that exposure to bullying and violence can play, say researchers in the European Heart Journal .
However, stressors, such as bullying and violence, can contribute to mood disorders, such as anxiety or depression, or unhealthy fuel behavior, such as smoking or eating and drinking too much, the authors note.
Severe stress can also increase blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease.
Intimidation or psychologically aggressive behavior affected 8 to 13 percent of workers in the three different surveys studied in the study.
Most of the hooligans were colleagues, managers or subordinates, and not clients or other persons outside the workplace.
About 7 percent to 17 percent of workers were abused, which included both the threat and actual physical harm. Most of the perpetrators of physical abuse were clients or people served by employees, not managers or colleagues.
Certain occupations appeared to be exposed to a negative risk of physical abuse: more than 47 percent of social workers experienced this, like more than 29 percent of personal and protective workers in the service, more than 25 percent of health workers, and more than 16 percent of teachers,
For analysis, researchers looked at workers in Denmark and Sweden who were participants in three studies that began between 1995 and 2011. Researchers examined data from the national health registry to confirm cardiovascular disease.
The new analysis was not intended to prove whether or how exposure to bullying or violence at work can lead to heart disease or related events, such as heart attacks or strokes.
Another limitation is that researchers only evaluated their exposure to bullying and violence once, when people entered the study, and could not understand how changes over time can affect heart health. The researchers also did not have complete data on tobacco consumption and some other factors that may affect the risk of heart disease, such as stress and personality.
Preceding psychological conditions, childhood experiences, and coping skills can affect whether work impacts bullying or work violence affect heart disease, said accompanying editor Christophe Herrmann-Lingen of the University of Göttingen Medical Center in Germany.
But this does not mean that workers should ignore these problems, Herrmann-Lingen said in an e-mail.
“Workers who are being bullied or who are threatened with violence or actual violence should take these events seriously and seek support to resolve major conflicts and get support in solving emotional problems resulting from,” he advised.
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2DMZpxZ and https://bit.ly/2TqGwWb European Heart Journal, online November 19, 2018.