Women’s Health: Stressful Jobs Put Strain on Women’s Hearts, Study Says

Women’s Health: Stressful Jobs Put Strain on Women’s Hearts, Study Says

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Cathy Hughes

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Cathy Hughes

Inspiration Of Motherhood: Knocked Up And Afraid Of Your Boss? Don’t Be

Inspiration Of Motherhood: Knocked Up And Afraid Of Your Boss? Don’t Be

Inspiration Of Motherhood: Knocked Up And Afraid Of Your Boss? Don’t Be

By Emily Peck

Managing Editor, HuffPost Business

A few years ago, I desperately needed a raise and only had a few months to get one, or so I thought.

Just a few weeks pregnant with my second child, I was giddily expecting a new baby but deeply worried about the cost. Bankrolling my husband and 2-year-old son on a single income was already dicey. The prospect of affording a reasonable amount of maternity leave and subsequent lifetime of doubling down on kid expenses — from diapers through college tuition — was daunting. (Yes, we chose to have a second, and no, we did not perform thorough due diligence on our budget.)

As I saw it, I had about three to four months to negotiate for more money or a promotion or find a new job before my body took me out of the running. I worried that my higher-ups would think that I wasn’t serious about work and that they would believe I’d be distracted by family obligations.

The news about Marissa Mayer apparently proves me wrong.

On Monday, Mayer, a 37-year-old engineer with more than a decade experience at Google, scored the top job at Yahoo, making her the 20th female CEO in the Fortune 500. Later that day, Mayer stunned many when she revealed that she is pregnant with her first child and due in October.

Mayer, also now the youngest CEO on Fortune’s list, told the magazine that Yahoo’s board of directors were apparently unconcerned with her pregnancy. “They showed their evolved thinking,” she told Fortune’s Patricia Sellers.

In a TED talk a few years ago, one of Mayer’s former peers at Google, Sheryl Sandberg, told professional women “don’t leave before you leave.” In other words, don’t scale back your career ambitions because you plan on having a family someday.

Mayer’s promotion certainly lends credence to that advice. She worked insane hours in her first years at Google, pulling at least one all-nighter a week, according to this story from the Wall Street Journal‘s FINS site, which highlights this quote:

“Part of Google was it was the right time and we had a great technology, but the other part was we worked really, really hard,” she said. “It was 130 hour weeks. People say, ‘there’s only 168 hours in a week, how can you do it?’ Well, if you’re strategic about when you shower and sleeping under your desk, it can be done.”

These aren’t the words of a woman who’s checked out early in anticipation of a new baby.

For me, checking out wasn’t ever an option. Even when I had my first kid and my new mom brain was fogged by sleepless nights, I still needed to make money. Indeed, that need was even greater — as it is for many many millions of women, mothers and, yes, fathers. We all need to believe that pregnancy does not block your career trajectory.

Some bloggers point out that Mayer is in rarefied company. She can afford to work endless hours and can hire a team of nannies to make it all work. Still, however exceptional her good news might be, it is inspiring.

Her example came two years too late for me. But, as it turns out, I did not need to worry. I started asking for a raise when I was just a few weeks pregnant, ultimately raising my hand for a promotion at work. Then, as my due date approached and my managers waffled around, I broke the news.

They also “showed their evolved thinking.”

Dear reader, I got that promotion.

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Cathy Hughes

Cathy Hughes, born Catherine Elizabeth Woods in Omaha, Nebraska on April 22, 1947, is an African-American entrepreneur, radio and television personality and business executive. Hughes founded the media company Radio One and later expanded into TV One, the company went public in 1998, making Hughes the first and only African-American female to head a publicly traded corporation at the time. In the 1980s, Hughes created the urban radio format called The Quiet Storm.

Cathy Hughes was born to Helen Jones Woods, a trombonist with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and William Alfred Woods, who was the first African-American to earn an accounting degree from Creighton University (a university which Hughes herself would later attend). The family lived in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Projectswhile Hughes’ father attended college.

After working for KOWH, Hughes was offered a job as a lecturer at the School of Communications at Howard University in Washington, D.C. In 1975, she became general manager of the university’s radio station, WHUR-FM.

In 1979, Hughes founded Radio One, and with then-husband Dewey Hughes, bought AM radio station WOL 1450 in Washington, D.C. After the previous employees had destroyed the facility, she faced financial difficulties and subsequently lost her home and moved with her young son to live at the station. Her fortunes began to change when she revamped the R&B station to a 24-hour talk radio format.

Radio One went on to own 70 radio stations in nine major markets in the U.S. In 1999, Radio One became a publicly traded company, listed under the NASDAQ stock exchange. As of 2007, Hughes’s son, Alfred Liggins, III, serves as CEO and president of Radio One, and Hughes as chairperson. Hughes is also a minority owner of BET industries.

In January 2004, Radio One launched TV One, a national cable and satellite television network which bills itself as the “lifestyle and entertainment network for African-American adults.” Hughes interviews prominent personalities, usually in the entertainment industry, for the network’s talk program TV One on One.

Both Cathy Hughes and her son, Alfred Liggins have been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the company Ernst & Young. She is an honorary member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority.

A Message From The Creator

“I think it’s very important for everyone in America to realize right now the state of our country, not just on this issue but on a lot of issues, that it is time to get active again. People have just sat back and just sort of said, oh, let somebody else do it for a long time, and we’re seeing what’s happening to the country, even freedom of speech. It’s not going well. So I think this is a real opportunity for people to see, yes, if you do get out and you do get active, there are other people there. You just have to seek them out.”
—Mary Steenburgen

Women’s Health: Stressful Jobs Put Strain on Women’s Hearts, Study Says


A new study found that women who rate their jobs as highly demanding and stressful were at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or dying from heart disease.

Heart disease is one of the leading killers of both men and women, and scientists have identified stress as one major risk factor that can damage the heart. But Dr. Michelle Albert, one of the study’s authors, said most of the previous research on stress and strain at work has focused on how they affect men’s hearts.

“We’re all stressed out, but we’re talking about strain or stress that’s above and beyond the body’s ability to handle it,” Albert said.

Albert and her colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston studied more than 22,000 women in the health care field – nurses, doctors and other professionals who were part of the decade-long Women’s Health Study. The researchers asked women about the stressors in their jobs, including the pace, amount of work, demands, required skills and control over decision-making.

In the study published today in the journal PLoS One, Albert and her colleagues found that the women who said their jobs were highly demanding and stressful were 38 percent more likely to have a heart problem than women who reported low job strain.

Though only a few previous studies of job stress and heart health have focused on women, researchers have had mixed results on establishing a link. One major trial, the Nurse’s Health Study, followed 35,000 female nurses over four years and found no relationship between coronary heart disease and job strain. On the other hand, a recent study of nearly 50,000 women in Finland found that active jobs were linked to an increased risk of stroke.

But Dr. Susan Bennett, co-director of the Women’s Heart Health Program at the MedStar Heart Institute in Washington, D.C., said scientists are becoming more assured that job strain has definite impacts on health.

“We know that stress is a killer. It’s just very hard to pour it into a beaker and measure how it affects people,” Bennett said.

There are many possible ways that chronic stress can contribute to heart disease, even by causing physical harm to cardiovascular system. High levels of stress hormones can lead to heart risk factors such as higher blood pressure, a build-up of plaque inside the arteries and increased insulin resistance.

Stressed people may also be more likely to smoke, drink excessively, or have poor eating and sleeping habits, all of which have been associated with heart problems. Also, some studies have found links between heart and mental health woes, such as depression and anxiety. But Albert noted that only up to 26 percent of the relationship between job strain and cardiovascular disease could be explained by traditional heart risk factors like these.

The study had a few problems that make it difficult to generalize the findings to a larger group of women. First, the study interviewed mostly white women, all of whom worked in the health care industry, so the results don’t capture how job stress affects women of all races and ethnicities or in other occupations.

The study also asked women about their job stress only once during the 10 years of the study, making it difficult to judge how their stress might have affected them over time.

Doctors say there are likely other things that influence the relationship between work stress and heart harm. Women in demanding jobs may find less time to take care of their health and decrease their stress, especially through activities like exercise. The time women spend commuting or how sedentary they are on the job also has a likely impact on their heart health.

So what are stressed out women to do? Given the current economic environment, it might not be feasible for women to reduce their work responsibilities or get a new, less stressful job altogether. But finding time to take care of themselves, both on and off the job, may be the key to health.

“You have control over your leisure time,” said Dr. Pam Marcovitz, medical director of the Ministrelli Women’s Heart Center at Beaumont Hospital near Detroit. “Scheduling time to exercise or engage in fun social activities is much more important than we have thought in the past.”

The burden also falls to employers, said Dr. Martha Gulati, director for Preventive Cardiology and Women’s Cardiovascular Health at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Considering the high cost of health care, companies have a vested interest in helping their workers minimize stress and stay healthy.

“Work places do need to recognize these findings when trying to make the work place healthier, particularly for high demand jobs,” Gulati said.

Gulati said she keeps a treadmill in her office, which comes in handy when she’s feeling the pressure of her job.

“I feel better by being active and sometimes I just walk briskly to reduce my stress,” she said.

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