Job burnout may be worse for your heart than smoking

Americans work longer hours, take fewer vacations, and retire later than employees in most other industrialized countries, so it figures that many of us are prime candidates for job burnout — the physical and cognitive exhaustion that comes from too much stress at work over a long period of time. It’s long been known that prolonged stress is tough on your health. Now, it turns out that job burnout may be worse for your heart than smoking.

Researchers at the business and medical schools at Tel Aviv University teamed up to see if they could find a link between job burnout and heart disease, they got a surprise: The most disenchanted employees developed heart problems at a 79% higher rate than their less-stressed peers. “This is alarming and much more extreme than we expected,” says Sharon Toker, who led the study, which was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. The findings suggest that job burnout is “a stronger predictor of coronary heart disease than many other known risk factors, including blood lipid levels, physical activity, and smoking.

“Some of the factors that contribute to burnout are common experiences in the workplace, including high stress, a heavy workload, a lack of control over job situations, a lack of emotional support, and long work hours,” she adds. “These things lead to wear and tear, which will eventually weaken the body.

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