By Robert Friedt
– If you abuse a boss or co-worker, your heart may pay the price, according to a new study.
Victims of bullying at work or violence faced a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, the researchers found.
The new study of more than 79,000 European workers can not prove cause and effect. But if there is J Causal link, eliminating bullying in the workplace "means that we can prevent 5% of all cardiovascular cases," said research director Thaneway Xu. She is a doctoral student at Copenhagen University in Denmark.
One expert in the United States agreed that bullying in the workplace is definitely not healthy.
"Even if problems at work do not cause heart problems, it can definitely worsen heart disease," said Curtis Reisinger, head of psychiatric services at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park.
In the new study, the team tracked long-term data from more than 79,000 adults working in Denmark and Sweden, ages 18 to 65, with no previous history of heart disease.
Nine percent reported abuse at work and 13 percent reported having experienced violence or threats of violence at work over the past year.
After matching several factors, the researchers found that those who were bullying at work had a 59 percent higher risk of heart disease than those who were not exposed to bullying. People who were subject to work violence or threats had a 25% higher risk than those without such experiences.
The risks appear to increase with the threat level, according to a news release from the European Cardiology Association. Compared with those who did not have heart disease, people who said they had been abused frequently (almost every day) in the past 12 months were 120 percent more likely to have heart disease.
Compared to those who were not subject to workplace violence or threats, those who were more often affected were 36 percent more likely to have stroke and other brain vascular problems, according to the findings.
Dr. Satjit Bhusri is a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.In reference to the findings he said that "we are beginning to understand more and more the concept of stress induced heart disease, also known as broken heart syndrome. This study shows a link between one such stress, bullying and heart disease. "
Reisinger said it made sense that stress in the workplace could tax the heart.
He explained that like many other animals, humans can be stressed to a state of "arousal" that, if fixed, can do cardiovascular damage. In the workplace bullying, in particular, can perpetuate the stressed state "into our home, recreation, sleep and vacations."
The bosses are the usual sources of this tension, "and in terms of human resources, people are saying to leave their boss, not their job," Reisinger said. "Their boss is the central person for maintaining or promoting or ignoring attempts at the workplace."
But even if you are unfortunate to have boss bullying, there are ways to deal.
"Stress reduction training techniques include techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, cognitive skills training, cognitive behavioral skills training, biofeedback, yoga and similar skills," Reisinger said. "These can go a long way in calming your responses to a hostile work environment."
The findings were published on November 18 The European Heart Journal.