People’s Occupations Can Be a Risk -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

People’s Occupations Can Be a Risk

photo: old woman

Hypertension among lower-status
employees lingers well into
retirement; © SXC

The study shows that retirement-aged Americans who held higher-status jobs — such as chief executives, financial managers and management analysts — tend to have the lowest rates of hypertension, while those who had lower-status jobs tend to have the highest rates.

While one European study correlated pre-retirement jobs with heart disease among seniors, most similar research has focused on working people between the ages of 25 and 65. Consequently, Paul Leigh, a professor with the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research at UC Davis, said, "it's been an open question whether occupations could influence hypertension after retirement, and we wanted to help close that gap in the research."

The research is based on data compiled by the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. The study surveys more than 22,000 non-institutionalized Americans over the age of 50 every two years and includes detailed information on job history, health status, lifestyle and socioeconomic factors.

Using data collected between March 2004 and February 2005, the researchers looked at 7,289 men and women over the age of 65.

The researchers then divided sub-samples by age groups — 65 and older, 70 and older and 75 and older — as well as by job type, job tenure, gender and physician diagnosis of hypertension. After controlling for variables such as education, race, income, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index and co-morbidities, they analyzed the data for statistical associations.

What they found with retirees was consistent with studies of those who are currently employed: higher-status occupations are associated with less hypertension than lower-status occupations.

"For a long time, the conventional wisdom was that the people at the top would be more likely to have hypertension, but just the opposite is true," said Leigh. "Hypertension is more common among people on the lowest rungs of the occupational ladder."; Source: University of California- Davis-Health System