More women are holding full-time jobs and occupying leadership positions in their workplaces. But in many households, women continue to carry a heavier burden of duties involving childcare, housework, meal preparation, and social activities – all of which may be increasing stress levels, fatigue, and sleep problems. According to a recent study, these factors may help explain why women’s risk for heart attack and stroke has risen sharply in recent years.
A new study using data from the Swiss Health Study found that between 2007 and 2017, traditional risk factors for heart disease including high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, smoking, and diabetes remained steady, but non-traditional risks such as work stress and sleep disorders rose sharply, especially among women. The research links the change with a rise in the number of women working full-time which increased from 38 percent to 44 percent during the same timespan.
According to a recent healthing.ca report, cardiovascular disease is the second-leading cause of death in Canada and about 1 in 12 Canadians over the age of 20 are living with a diagnosed case of heart disease. Although men have twice the risk for heart attack as women, they tend to be diagnosed nearly a decade earlier than women.
Research co-author Dr. Susanne Wegener, Professor of Neurology at the University of Zurich, said in an American Association for the Advancement of Science press release that the data is alarming, and shows that there is a wide range of risk factors for heart disease that extend beyond the officially recognized medical risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle. By including societal pressures, that can lead to increased stress, feeling tired, fatigue, and sleep disorders as contributing factors to heart attack and stroke, better prevention strategies can be implemented by health care providers and patients.
Learn more about the symptoms of stress in women and how to manage negative stress with self-care and healthy life changes by following this link to the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Library.
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