Encouraging awareness, treatment may reduce hypertension among workers
The study, published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, looked at the potential impact of occupation on the prevalence, management, and control of hypertension. It concluded that "occupational disparities in prevalence and management of hypertension should be considered when designing and implementing hypertension control programs in the workplace."
Hypertension is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and contributes to about half of strokes and ischemic heart disease, the authors note. One in three U.S. adults is affected by hypertension.
Several previous studies have indicated an association between high blood pressure and occupation. The authors reviewed data to assess the connection between occupation, hypertension prevalence, treatment, awareness, and control among U.S. workers. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 1999-2004 was used.
"The hypothesis that higher prevalence of hypertension in some occupations may be due to higher stress levels is further supported by our finding of sales and food service workers -- jobs that have been reported to have high stress levels -- having the highest hypertension prevalence," the study says.
Other occupational subgroups with a high prevalence of hypertension were:
- Motor vehicle operators.
- Mechanics and repair workers.
- Fabricators, assemblers, and samples workers.
- Cleaning and building service occupations.
Only 41 percent of the subjects with high blood pressure were aware of having hypertension.
Protective service workers such as police and firefighters could benefit the most from work site hypertension management programs. These workers had the second highest prevalence of hypertension but the lowest prevalence of awareness, treatment, and control combined. Material recording, scheduling, and distribution clerks also had low prevalence of treatment for hypertension, followed by workers in sales, retail, and personal services.
Several evidence-based strategies implemented at work sites "may be a cost effective way to decrease employers' health care costs associated with hypertension and other chronic diseases," the study said. Among them were work site nutrition and physical activity programs; modification of the work environment such as making a cafeteria available, especially one with healthy food choices; exercise facilities; and the installation of self-testing health stations.
"Our findings add to the increasing evidence that an individual's occupation affects his or her health," the study says. "Management of hypertension may be particularly difficult among workers in high stress work environments with high levels of occupational noise exposure, such as protective service workers. Thus, there may be a need for hypertension programs among these workers, with programs that include the provision of protective devices to reduce noise exposure, counseling to help reduce job stress, and education about the importance of regular medical checkups and adequate hypertension management, treatment and control."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 17, 2012
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