Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Fatal Dangers of Job Stress

Job stress poses threats to your brain and cardiovascular health. According to the Workers Accident Medical Corporation, the number of cardiovascular patients was 3,441 or 19.4 percent of 17,730 workers who suffered work-related illness between January 2005 and December 2006. As the link between their sickness and job stress was recognized, most of them were compensated for industrial accident.

Many surveys show the impact of stress on workers’ health. According to the health and nutrition examination survey in the U.S. in 1988, the applied occupational and environmental hygiene survey in Japan in 1966 and a survey by Institute of Occupational Medicine at Yonsei Wonju College of Medicine in Korea in 2005, job stress directly increases the risk of brain and cardiovascular disease by raising blood pressure, slowing down the heartbeat and increasing bad cholesterol and blood clots.

Job stress is the physical and emotional response workers feel when they cannot meet the demands of their job. The first reaction is alarm -- pounding heart and shortness of breath -- triggered in the sympathetic nervous system. Next comes the reaction stage, where stress victims try to adjust to the stress or resist. At this stage, the human body secretes stress hormones like adrenal cortical hormone as a protection.

But if stress continues for a long time or occurs repeatedly, the immune system collapses and the body becomes exhausted. At this point, sufferers can fall victim to diseases of specific organs or mental illness. Brain and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke can occur at this stage.

Prof. Kim Won at Department of Neuropsychiatry and Stress Research Institute at Inje University Seoul Paik Hospital said, “Job stress also causes damages to the organization by reducing productivity, degrading the organization’s image and increasing workforce turnover.” He urged Korean companies to regard job stress as a risk factor and introduce professional programs to deal with job stress, like many businesses in advanced countries.

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