Job stress and strain have long been suspected as contributing factors to high blood pressure but the evidence has been inconsistent. Short term stress is actually beneficial to the body, stimulating the body's fight or flight mechanism through cortisol and adrenaline and it raises blood pressure in a short burst. However long term chronic stress is bad for the body, potentially contributing to heart attack, high blood pressure and strokes. One of the reasons that the evidence for a link between job stress and high blood pressure is so inconsistent is that many people with job stress have coping mechanisms that are known to increase the risk for high blood pressure. Many people cope with stress by smoking, drinking and over eating as a comfort mechanism and it is difficult to separate whether the high blood pressure is due to the stress or the coping mechanisms. However a recent analysis carried out by an Indian reviewed all of the papers that have been published on the work stress hypertension relationship and they found that there was a statistically significant association between hypertension and job stress. Clearly two strategies for dealing with high blood pressure should be combined.
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Babu et al. Is hypertension associated with job strain? A meta analysis of observational studies. Occup Environ Med. Sept 2013.