Jobs That Can Harm Your Heart

The risks for developing a cardiovascular disease differ depending on various factors, including a person's job and place of work. Researchers have found the risk of heart diseases may also depend on the industry sector in which a person works.

There are 2 main groups of occupations that are harmful for the heart.

pilot 2If your occupation falls into any of these two groups, you should take increased care of your heart and vessels in order to avoid the negative influence your job has on your heart and to prevent serious health problems. 

The 1st group includes occupations that combine:

  • Low physical activity;
  • Situations in which one needs to quickly evaluate a situation and make crucial decisions;
  • Responsibility for a large number of people;
  • 24-hour shift schedule and night shifts.

This group of jobs includes:

  • Air and railway traffic controllers;
  • Pilots;
  • Locomotive drivers;
  • Drivers (like bus drivers, etc.);
  • Administrators;
  • Executive positions (Presidents, Ministers, Public Works Directors, Managers of plants, enterprises, power stations, etc.).

Here are some recommendations for people who are in the 1st group of jobs.

Once your working day is over, you should shift your attention to something not related to your work and, leave all your working issues at work:

  • Try walking home after your work day - fresh air and physical activity will help relieve stress;
  • Have a chat with a friend.  During a free and easy conversation, the emotional tension caused by working issues is reduced and the negative energy accumulated during the day is released.  During such conversation you are switching over to a different emotional ‘wave’ which will help you forget about your work;
  • healthy-lifestyleOnce you are at home, try doing something with your hands - drawing, knitting, cross-stitching, cooking a dinner, etc.;
  • Listen to calm and relaxing music;
  • Make sure that your diet includes foods which contain a lot of protein (lean meat, cheese, cereals, etc.);
  • Take B-vitamin complex (B1, B6, etc.) and ascorbic acid;
  • Take a walk in the evening for not less than 1 hour.  This will help calm your nervous system, improve heart function and normalize your sleep;
  • Have a good night’s sleep of not less than 8 hours, and it’s better to go to bed no later than 10 p.m.
  • Engage in active sports:
    • Football;
    • Volleyball;
    • Tennis;
    • Badminton;
    • Running;
    • Cycling;
    • Skiing;
    • Dancing;
    • Aerobics.

 You should not:

  • Be “stuck” in front of your TV set or computer; do not read newspapers after your working day.  All this irritates your already excited and tired nervous system as well as promotes an increased heart beat and high blood pressure;
  • Drink alcohol or smoke. Drinking and smoking at first stimulates and then depresses the nervous system, damages the walls of the blood vessels, promotes blood thickening and increases the level of cholesterol in blood;
  • Take sleeping pills and sedatives. These drugs reduce attention concentration until moon of the next day, and that is not acceptable for your work.  Use valerian or motherwort instead.

The 2nd group includes occupations combining:

  • Responsibility for the result;
  • Standing on one’s feet for a long time;
  • Emotional tension and increased attention concentration.

t1largThis group includes the following jobs:

  • Surgeons;
  • Anesthesiologists;
  • Emergency physicians;
  • Hairdressers;
  • Sellers;
  • Security Officers;
  • Machine tool operators;
  • Road traffic controllers;
  • Auto mechanics;
  • Rescuers;
  • Teachers and lecturers;
  • Singers.

Here are some recommendations for those people who are in the 2nd group of jobs.

If your job requires that you spend more than 4 hours standing on your feet, be aware that standing for such a long time promotes stagnation of blood in the lower extremities, increases the load on the heart and can cause a rise in blood pressure.  People in these jobs often suffer from swelling of the legs and vascular diseases of the lower extremities (thrombophlebitis or varicose veins).  In order to avoid the negative effect your job exerts on your heart you should follow these recommendations:

  • Your diet should contain enough minerals like potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Foods rich in potassium are: baked potato, greens, dried apricots, figs, prunes, bananas. Green tea, in addition to potassium, contains a lot of antioxidants (substances that reduced the level of cholesterol and help rid the body of toxins).  Foods containing magnesium include soybeans, oatmeal, buckwheat, walnuts and almonds.  Phosphorus can be found in sea fish and shellfish;
  • During your working day try to find some time to rest your legs – take a comfortable position, raise your legs horizontally or a bit higher in order to improve the blood flow. Keep this position for at least 10-15 minutes. Gently massage your feet and legs;
  • It is very important that after work hours you rest in a horizontal position for not less than 40 minutes;
  • It’s very beneficial to be in the open air, but unlike those from the 1st group, you do not need to walk zealously.  You just need to be outdoors (sitting on a bench, at a campfire, or lying in a hammock).  Your legs should rest after the work day and your heart should get enough oxygen;
  • Sports like tennis, cycling or football are not for you because they exert even a greater load on your legs (but this applies only to the days when you are working - on weekends these activities can be good for you).   There is nothing better for you than swimming – it tones up the body, has a positive effect on the cardiovascular and nervous systems, improves metabolism, reduces excess weight and raises your spirits.

You should not:

Smoke.  It’s strictly forbidden as components in the tobacco smoke cause vascular spasm, increase the viscosity of blood and disturb blood circulation.  All this will lead to the development of, not only heart diseases, but also disorders of the vessels in the lower extremities (it can result in thrombosis and in the worst case – amputation). 

Some Statistics:

  • About 45% of on-the-job death cases of firefighters and 22% death cases of police officers are due to various heart diseases compared to the 15% in other types of jobs.  Shift work, long hours, exposure to various pollutants, unhealthy diet at work, stress and other risk factors such as high blood pressure play a considerable role.
  • In 2004, there was a study which revealed that older workers who lost their job because their place of work had been closed and not because of any health problems, had more than twice the risk of stroke than those who managed to keep their jobs.
  • A study conducted among British civil servants found that those who worked 11 hours or more per day have a 67% higher risk for coronary artery disease than those working 7 or 8 hours.
  • According to the CDC, employment status is also important when we considering heart threatening jobs. There was a study conducted between 2008 and 2012 that estimated the prevalence of stroke or coronary artery disease in adults aged <55 to be 1.9% of employed adults; whereas the numbers among those who were looking for work and those who were not in the labor force (students, disabled persons, homemakers, retired persons, and those who stopped looking for work) were even higher – 2.5% and 6.3% respectively.  It seems that even having a most dangerous job for your heart is still 3 times safer than having no job at all.


To learn more about Cardiology, we recommend the following websites: