CBS NEW YORK — New research shows that your job could kill you. Six months ago Myra Martino suffered a massive heart attack. She recently told CBS 2′s Kristine Johnson that she is lucky to be alive. “I never came so close to not seeing the next day,” she said.
Martino is the superintendent of two Manhattan apartment buildings, a job that she has had for 27 years. “I guess that puts a certain amount of stress on the body,” she said. And a recent study shows that work-related stress may be the problem.
Women with significant levels of job-related stress are almost 70 percent more likely to have a heart attack and nearly 40 percent more likely to suffer from other forms of cardiovascular trauma than women with low-stress jobs, according to research conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Dr. Jacqueline Tamis-Holland a cardiologist at St. Luke’s Hospital explained the findings to CBS 2. “In this particular study they looked at the demand that your job had on you and the control you have over how demanding your job is,” she said.
Dr. Tamis-Holland explained that the human body is designed to handle a certain amount of stress. But when that stress occurs day after day, year after year, the body can no longer handle it, without long-term health consequences. “The adrenalines that are released from the body during stress can cause an increase in damaging the arteries,” she said.
The study focused on 22,000 women, in every job field imaginable, over 10 years. “If you have a very stressful, demanding job you may be a little tired at the end of the day. You may not want to exercise. You may be more inclined to smoke. You may not eat a very healthy diet,” she said.
Dr. Tamis-Holland said that a few small changes can make a big difference. “You need some ‘me time,’ even if it’s a half hour a day when you sit down with a book, or go for a walk,” she said.
Martino said that while she still works hard, she has adopted a new perspective on life. “When you get up and look out the window and you say ‘it’s really great to see today,’” she said. Researchers also advise spending more of your off time away from your electronic devices.