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New numbers show nurses at risk of increased heart problems

Posted at 12:07 PM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-16 15:25:42-05

New numbers from the American Heart Association show some jobs are so stressful that they're linked to increased heart problems in women.

Ironically: some of those jobs are in the healthcare field.

Dr. Sasanka Jayasuriya, a cardiologist at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's, said healthcare workers in general are good at exercising and staying away from smoking and other risk factors of heart disease.

But even so, the American Heart Association numbers show that female nurses, psychiatric healthcare providers, and home health aides, are 14-16 percent more likely to have poor, cardiovascular health.

"This is the first time this data is coming out, that people in healthcare are suffering heart disease at such high rates," Jayasuriya said.

She thinks stress is the main reason why.

"When you work in healthcare, when you take care of patients, you get attached to patients and their families," the doctor said. "If there's a bad outcome, we suffer as much as those families do. We can't just let it go and move on."

Alexandra Daleo, a nurse in the burn unit at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's, agreed with Jayasuriya that the stress of nursing is likely why some women in the profession are seeing heart problems.

"It's a very stressful job," Daleo said. "We have to be on our A-game every minute of that 12 to 13-hour shift."

But Daleo said she loves her job. She's learned that adapting to stress is just a routine part of it.

"When the stress gets too high here, it's all about reaching out and asking for help from other co-workers, from providers, other disciplines that can come forward to help you," Daleo said.

The AHA numbers also showed female social workers were 36 percent more likely to have heart problems, and retail cashiers were 33 percent more likely to have poor heart health.

The study surveyed 65,000 post-menopausal women in determining some jobs have much higher chances of significant heart problems. Researchers unveiled their findings at the American Heart Association's 2019 Scientific Sessions.

This story was originally published by Pete Zervakis at WTMJ.