Stress at work, sleep disturbances and fatigue “increase more strongly in women”

Stress at work, sleep disturbances and fatigue, considered non-traditional risk factors for heart attack and stroke, increase more sharply in women than in men, suggests a new study.

Researchers compared data from 22,000 men and women in the Swiss Health Survey from 2007, 2012 and 2017 and found what they described as an alarming increase in the number of women reporting non-traditional risk factors. cardiovascular disease.

They suggest that this trend coincided with an increase in the number of women working full time from 38% in 2007 to 44% in 2017.

For both men and women, the number of people reporting being stressed at work rose from 59% in 2012 to 66% in 2017.

Those reporting feeling tired and fatigued rose from 23% to 29% – to 33% in women and 26% in men.

During the same period, the number of reports of sleep disturbances increased from 24% to 29%, with severe sleep disturbances also increasing more sharply in women (8%) than in men (5%). found the researchers.

However, the study also found that traditional risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease remained stable over the same period.

More than a quarter (27%) of people suffered from high blood pressure, 18% from high cholesterol and 5% from diabetes.

Obesity increased to 11% and smoking decreased from about 10.5 to 9.5 cigarettes per day, but both were more common in men.

The authors of the study were Dr Martin Hansel, neurologist at the University Hospital Zurich, and Dr Susanne Wegener, professor of neurology at the University of Zurich.

They said: “Our study found that men were more likely to smoke and be obese than women, but women reported a greater increase in non-traditional risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. , such as stress at work, sleep disturbances and feeling tired and tired.

“This increase coincides with the number of women working full time.

Dr Wegener explained that diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity are recognized modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

However, recently it has been noted that non-traditional risk factors such as work pressure and sleep problems can significantly increase cardiovascular risk.

Dr Wegener said: “Traditionally, men are seen to be more affected by heart attacks and strokes than women, but in some countries women have overtaken men.”

The research was presented at the European Stroke Organization (ESO) conference.

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