How Your Job Can Affect Your Heart Health

Michael Precker wrote . . . . . . . . .

Is your job good for your health?

From the factory floor to the phone bank, from the boardroom to the emergency room, it’s a complicated question to consider as we pursue paychecks and navigate careers.

“Health isn’t just what we eat and how physically active we are,” said Yvonne Michael, professor of epidemiology at Drexel University’s School of Public Health in Philadelphia. “It’s also what’s happening at work that may allow us either to be more healthy or keep us from being healthy.”

Sometimes the answer isn’t a surprise.

A 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared seven cardiovascular health metrics – smoking, physical activity, blood pressure, blood sugar, body weight, cholesterol and healthy diet – among people with 22 different occupations.

Truck drivers, who tend to sit for long hours and eat on the go, were high on the unhealthy list, while farm, forestry and fishing employees had the best health metrics scores.

A study published in January in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine evaluated the 20 most common jobs among more than 65,000 older women. It found bookkeeping and accounting clerks, supervisors of sales workers and administrative support workers, and nursing and home health aides were among those who had higher than average risk of poor cardiovascular health, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Teachers, counselors and real estate brokers were among those less likely to have poor cardiovascular health.

The research did not examine why some jobs were more detrimental to health than others, but Michael, who was senior author of the study, said the findings suggest sedentary jobs, stress and the burdens of supervising others could be involved.

“If we can find out the factors associated with cardiovascular health, we can prevent cardiovascular disease from occurring,” she said. “It might be possible for physicians to screen for occupations as a way to identify women who may have higher risk.”

But the answers aren’t always clear, nor can workers switch jobs after every new study. For example, an analysis published this month in the European Heart Journal of more than 280,000 people in England determined that people working night shifts had a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder, than people working days. It offered no clues as to the cause.

“It can be frustrating,” Michael said. “A lot of people don’t have choices about the jobs they have.”

While exercise is widely regarded as good for the heart, a study of nearly 17,000 workers in the U.S. indicated people who had high levels of physical activity on the job, especially lifting and carrying, were more likely to have cardiovascular disease.

“Physical activity you do at work is potentially different for cardiovascular health compared to exercise you do outside work,” said Tyler Quinn, who led the study, published in March in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. “One hypothesis explaining this is that when you exercise in leisure time you’re stressing the body in very specific time periods and letting the body recover. Activity during work often doesn’t allow for that recovery time.

“So people who do continuous physical activity during the workday may end up with a higher cardiovascular load, higher blood pressure and heart rate, throughout the whole 24-hour day, and we know that is associated with lower cardiovascular health over time.”

At the same time, said Quinn, a research physiologist with the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the U.S. workforce has trended toward desk jobs, fostering a sedentary lifestyle that’s not good for cardiovascular health either.

“We need to moderate some of the effects of those extremes,” he said. “We want people who are moving all day at work to move a little bit less and take breaks, and people who are sitting at work to take breaks by moving. The body likes variety.”

Whatever their jobs, Quinn said, workers can help themselves by following basic heart-healthy guidelines: keeping physically fit, eating well and not smoking.

But employers also can help, he said, by providing more breaks and different tasks for people with strenuous jobs, and more opportunities for desk-bound workers to get up and move around, while looking for ways to ease job stress and allow more control of the work environment.

Michael agreed. “We spend a lot of time at work, and workplaces have a lot of ability to shape their workers’ opportunities for good health.”

The COVID-19 pandemic that forced many more people to work from home added a new element to the work-health equation. Not having to commute could free up more time to exercise or cook healthy meals. But a home office also could mean fewer limits on snacking or even reaching for a cigarette.

“The virtual workplace does create a lot of flexibility, and we’ve seen benefits of that,” Michael said. “But it’s cut off some healthy aspects, like having social connections at work. We can look at it as kind of an experiment. I know employers are eager to see what worked and what didn’t, and if we can take those lessons to make the workplace healthier.”

Source: American Heart Association

New Cell Phone and Smart Watch Models Can Interfere with Pacemakers and Defibrillators

After reports of smart phone and watch interference with implanted medical devices, investigators affiliated with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) at the US Food and Drug Administration conducted a study that supports the FDA recommendation that patients keep any consumer electronic devices that may create magnetic interference, including cell phones and smart watches, at least six inches away from implanted medical devices, in particular pacemakers and cardiac defibrillators. Their findings appear in Heart Rhythm, the official journal of the Heart Rhythm Society, the Cardiac Electrophysiology Society, and the Pediatric & Congenital Electrophysiology Society, published by Elsevier.

“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s medical devices is a cornerstone of our consumer protection mission, especially as technology continues to advance,” explained lead investigator Seth J. Seidman, MS, Research Electrical Engineer and EMC Program Advisor with the CDRH. “As part of this work, the agency reviewed recently published articles describing the possibility that certain newer cell phones, smart watches and other consumer electronics with high field strength magnets may temporarily affect the normal operation of implanted electronic medical devices, such as pacemakers and implantable defibrillators. Based on our review, we decided to conduct our own testing to confirm and help inform appropriate recommendations for patients and consumers.”

Cardiac implanted electronic devices are intended to support heart rhythm disorders, such as slow or fast heart rates. Implantable pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) include a “magnet mode” designed to be used when a patient is undergoing a procedure where electromagnetic interference is possible, or when suspension of the device is necessary for medical treatment. However, this feature can also be triggered accidentally from strong magnetic fields greater than 10G, which can change how the device works and could result in serious harm to the patient.

Historically, magnets strong enough to trigger this magnet mode were very large and identifiable, such as stereo speakers or electronic motors in cordless tools. With the advent of small rare-earth magnets, however, strong magnetic fields can be found in headphones, door locks, or small phone speakers.

The investigators tested the magnetic field output of all iPhone 12 and Apple Watch 6 models at varying distances from the devices. They found that all the devices have static magnetic fields significantly greater than 10G in close proximity, high enough to place implanted cardiac devices into magnet mode. However, when a separation distance of six inches or more is maintained, the phones and watches will not trigger magnet mode.

“Because of these results, we are taking steps to provide information for patients and healthcare providers to ensure they are aware of potential risks and can take simple proactive and preventive measures like keeping consumer electronics, such as certain cell phones and smart watches, six inches away from implanted medical devices and not carrying consumer electronics in a pocket over the medical device,” advised Mr. Seidman.

“We believe the risk to patients is low and the agency is not aware of any adverse events associated with this issue at this time. However, the number of consumer electronics with strong magnets is expected to increase over time. Therefore, we recommend people with implanted medical devices talk with their healthcare providers to ensure they understand this potential risk and the proper techniques for safe use. The FDA will continue to monitor the effects of consumer electronics on the safe operation of medical devices,” noted Mr. Seidman.

Source: Elsevier

Fish Po’ Boys

Ingredients

1 pound skinless flounder fillets
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
8-ounce baguette, split and hollowed out slightly
lettuce, for serving
sliced tomato, for serving

Spicy Tartar Sauce

1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chili sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
2 tablespoons chopped gherkins (or pickles)
hot sauce, such as Tabasco

Method

  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chili sauce, parsley, mustard, and gherkins. Season with hot sauce, as desired. The sauce can be refrigerated, covered, for 2 to 3 days.
  2. Cut the flounder fillets into 1-1/2-inch strips; pat dry. Place in a medium bowl. Add the cornmeal. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  3. Heat the canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Brown the fish (work in batches if needed) on both sides, 7 to 10 minutes (turn the fish carefully). Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with more salt, as desired.
  4. Spread both halves of the baguette with tartar sauce, and layer with lettuce, tomato, and fish. Cut into 4 portions and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Great Food Fast


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