London, June 23 (Reuters): Unfair and unreasonable bosses can increase their employees’ blood pressure and raise the risk of a heart attack or stroke, British doctors have said.
A study by researchers at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College in England found that the blood pressure of healthcare assistants was higher when they were supervised by someone they considered unreasonable.
“An unfavourably perceived supervisor is a potent workplace stressor, which might have a clinically significant impact on supervisees’ cardiovascular functioning,” Dr Nadia Wager said in a report in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The researchers measured the blood pressure of 28 healthcare workers every 30 minutes for 12 hours over three days and compared the results with their evaluations of nurses who had supervised them.
When the assistants worked with a supervisor whom they had considered unfair, they had an increase of 10 millimetres of mercury (mm/hg) in systolic and five mm/hg in diastolic blood pressure.
But when they were supervised by someone they thought was reasonable and fair, their blood pressure dropped slightly.
Systolic is the pressure of the contracting heart and diastolic is the pressure of the resting heart.
An increase of 10 mm/hg in systolic and five mm/hg in diastolic blood pressure is associated with a 16 per cent increased risk of coronary heart disease and a 38 per cent increased risk of stroke, according to the researchers.
Cardiovascular disease kills an estimated 16.6 million people, or one-third of total global deaths, each year, according to the World Health Organisation.
High blood pressure, raised cholesterol levels, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive weight and a poor diet are leading risk factors.