People with work stress are more likely to be hospitalized forPeripheral arterial disease,according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, edited by the American Heart Association.

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a cardiovascular pathology that occurswhen cholesterol or other fatty substances in the blood accumulate in blood vessels far from the heart, normally in the legs, preventing blood flow. Symptoms usually includeleg pain when walking. If left untreated, it increases the likelihood of heart disease and stroke.

Worldwide, peripheral arterial disease affects more than 200 million people. Despite the considerable burden of this disease, evidence on the specific risk factors for this disease, including possible primary preventive goals, is scarce, according to the researchers.

Work-related stress refers to thepsychological and social stress at work, often due to high expectations combined with lower levels of personal control. Previous studies have linked work stress with other forms of atherosclerotic disease; however, few have specifically analyzed its effects on peripheral arterial disease. This study focused on the relationship between work-related stress and hospital treatment for peripheral arterial disease.

The researchers evaluated the records of139,000 men and women(36.4% male; average age of study participants ranges from 39 to 49 years) who participated in 11 separate studies from 1985 to 2008 in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. Participants included in the analysis had no history of peripheral arterial disease when the respective studies began. Individual information for each participant included age, sex, BMI, smoker or non-smoker, alcohol consumption, level of physical activity, diabetes status, socioeconomic status, data on hospitalizations and the questionnaire on work-related stress.

During an average of 12.8 years of follow-up, 667 people (0.2 to 1.8% of the participants) were hospitalized for peripheral arterial disease. The researchers found that people with work-related stressthey were 1.4 times more likelyThose who did not suffer from having a peripheral arterial disease registry in the hospitalization registry, after adjusting for the variables of age, sex, and lifestyle.

“Our findings suggest that thework-related stress could be a risk factorfor peripheral arterial disease in a similar way as it is for heart disease and stroke, “explains study lead author Katriina Heikkilä, principal investigator at the Karolinska Institute (Sweden).

Stress is associated with increased inflammation and increased blood glucose levels. Therefore, although there is limited evidence linking work-related stress to heart disease, stress may be contributing to complications and exacerbations of peripheral arterial disease.

The researchers measured work-related stress based on the participants’ ratings of the statements to describe the psychosocial aspects of their work. This information was compared with the records of hospitalizations for peripheral arterial disease over almost 13 years of hospital records.

Overall, almost a quarter of participants without prior hospitalization for peripheral arterial disease reported work-related stress at the start of the 11 studies. The researchers observed aincreased risk among men,those with high socioeconomic status and smokers, but noted that such subgroup analysis was limited by the small number of people with peripheral artery disease.