Workplace bullying can take a toll on your heart

Washington: Individuals who are bullied or experience violence at work are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, a recent study suggests. “If there is a causal link between bullying or violence at work and cardiovascular disease, then the removal of workplace bullying would mean we could avoid five per cent of all cardiovascular cases, and the eradication of violence at work would avoid more than three per cent of all cases,” said Tianwei Xu, lead researcher of the study.

Researchers examined data from 79,201 working men and women in Denmark and Sweden, aged 18 to 65, with no history of cardiovascular disease (CDV). When they joined the studies, the participants were asked about bullying and violence in the workplace and how frequently they experienced each of them.

Information on the number of cases of heart and brain blood vessel disease and deaths was obtained from nationwide registries. Nine per cent of participants reported being bullied at work and 13 per cent reported experiencing violence or threats of violence at work in the past year. Researchers found that those who were bullied or experienced violence (or threats of violence) at work had a 59 and 25 per cent higher risk of CVD, respectively, compared to people who were not exposed to bullying or violence. The more bullying or violence that was encountered, the greater the risk of CVD.

Xu said, “Workplace bullying and workplace violence are distinct social stressors at work. Only 10-14 per cent of those exposed to at least one type of exposure was suffering from the other at the same time. These stressful events are related to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in a dose-response
manner.

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