Working Is Good for the Heart

Published Online: Thursday, May 1, 2003

The conventional wisdom is that people who live a lifetime filled with on-the-job stress die earlier than do those who stay home. Exactly the opposite may be true for African-American women, however.

A study presented March 6, 2003, at the American Heart Association?s annual conference on cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention analyzed health and employment data for more than 6800 middle-aged women who were followed for 11 years as part of a larger study. About 26% of the group were homemakers, whereas about 74% had jobs outside the home at the time.

The study found that black working women had a 33% lower risk of a heart attack or other coronary event than did the black homemakers. No such correlation was found between work and white women. More research is needed, but the study authors speculate that having more money could give black women better access to medical care and a healthier diet.

The researchers also note that the black homemakers had higher rates of hypertension and diabetes, higher body mass indexes, and higher cholesterol and were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol.



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