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Unfair Treatment Can Harm the Heart

Sense of injustice raises heart attack risk, study finds

TUESDAY, May 15, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A nagging sense of being unfairly treated at work or at home can raise a person's risk of heart attack, British researchers report.

Researchers at University College London analyzed responses from a few thousand senior civil servants working for the British government in London. On a scale of 1 to 6 (1 equals "strongly disagree" and 6 equals "strongly agree"), the workers were asked to rate their response to the statement: "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly."

Scores of 1 or 2 were rated as low, scores of 3 or 4 were moderate, and those of 5 or 6 were high.

The workers were tracked for an average of 11 years. During that time, 64 of the 966 people in the low category had either a heart attack or experienced angina, compared with 98 of 1,368 in the moderate category and 51 of 567 in the high category.

People with the strongest feelings of being treated unfairly were 55 percent more likely than those in the moderate category and twice as likely as those in the low category to have serious heart disease, the study found.

Women and people with lower incomes and status were much more likely than others to feel they were being treated unfairly, the researchers added. Feelings of unfair treatment were also associated with higher levels of poor physical and mental health.

Fairness is an important factor in promoting a healthier society, the U.K. team concluded. They published their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers advice on how to keep your heart healthy.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist journals, news release, May 15, 2007
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