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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 August, 2003, 05:12 GMT 06:12 UK
Work stress 'increases heart attack risk'
The stressful office may be bad for your health
Workplace stress increases the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke, according to new research.

Long-term stress is worse for the heart than putting on 40lbs or ageing 30 years because workers deal with stress by smoking, drinking and "slobbing out".

Those who suffer stress for at least half their working lives are 25% more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and have a 50% greater chance of dying from a stroke the report found.

The study comes as the first NHS hospital has been threatened with legal action from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to protect its doctors and nurses from stress.

The research - the Modern Workers Health Check - has been published in the TUC-backed Hazards magazine.

Long hours culture

Blue-collar manual workers were more prone to illness through stress than business executives.

Contributing researcher Paul Landsbergis said manual workers were more likely to suffer heart attacks because of high pressure caused by overtime, night shifts and hard work for low rewards.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC said: "Stress at work is cutting lives short".

He blamed overwork and the long hours culture.

Working for unreasonable and irrational bosses leads to potentially dangerous high blood pressure, the report claimed.

Meanwhile the West Dorset Hospitals NHS Trust has been given until 15 December to assess stress levels in among its 1,100 staff and introduce a programme to reduce it, according to the Times paper.

If it fails to act it will face court action and unlimited fines under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The HSE launched a pilot scheme earlier this summer whereby companies must measure employee stress and if necessary take action to reduce it.

The BBC's Matt Prodger
"Employers' organisations say they're being made scapegoats"

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