Doctors say there are likely other things that influence the relationship between work stress and heart harm. Women in demanding jobs may find less time to take care of their health and decrease their stress, especially through activities like exercise. The time women spend commuting or how sedentary they are on the job also has a likely impact on their heart health.
So what are stressed out women to do? Given the current economic environment, it might not be feasible for women to reduce their work responsibilities or get a new, less stressful job altogether. But finding time to take care of themselves, both on and off the job, may be the key to health.
"You have control over your leisure time," said Dr. Pam Marcovitz, medical director of the Ministrelli Women's Heart Center at Beaumont Hospital near Detroit. "Scheduling time to exercise or engage in fun social activities is much more important than we have thought in the past."
The burden also falls to employers, said Dr. Martha Gulati, director for Preventive Cardiology and Women's Cardiovascular Health at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Considering the high cost of health care, companies have a vested interest in helping their workers minimize stress and stay healthy.
"Work places do need to recognize these findings when trying to make the work place healthier, particularly for high demand jobs," Gulati said.
Gulati said she keeps a treadmill in her office, which comes in handy when she's feeling the pressure of her job.
"I feel better by being active and sometimes I just walk briskly to reduce my stress," she said.