Work-Based Stress Management Good for the Heart

January 8, 2007

MILAN, Italy -- An hour a week devoted by office workers to on-the-job stress management achieved small but significant improvements in both heart rate variability and arterial blood pressure after a year, researchers here reported.

MILAN, Italy, Jan. 8 -- An hour a week devoted by office workers to on-the-job stress management achieved small but significant improvements in both heart rate variability and arterial blood pressure after a year, researchers here reported.

Workers who took part in the weekly sessions reduced arterial systolic pressure by an average of 7 mm Hg (P

Workers also reported more stress-related symptoms such as headache, backache, or anxiety (P

Eighteen of the volunteers for the stress management program were women, and the authors said the gender inequality "likely reflects the usually lighter routing of female workforce, allowing women to accept the more demanding commitment of following the more rigorous [stress management program] as compared to men that have a more frequent travel program, and hence may be forced to skip scheduled encounters."

Dr. Pagani said that work-based program did not impinge on productivity and there was "zero cost to the company."

Moreover, by addressing stress "at work, where stress occurs, rather than in a clinic we think we have prevented workers from becoming patients," he said.

The authors pointed out that as an observational study without randomized controls that the data conclusions could not be definitive. "Therefore these findings should not be considered definitive, but only hypothesis generating, until larger, more robust studies will be performed," they wrote.