Objectives Employed persons are considered healthier than the general population. Yet, between 5–18% of all coronary heart disease deaths can be attributed to occupational exposures, ranging from noise to job stress. Cardiovascular health (CVH) is based on seven modifiable characteristics (i.e. cigarette smoking, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, diet, blood pressure, and levels of total cholesterol and fasting glucose) used to categorise individuals as having poor, intermediate and ideal CVH. In this study, we compared levels of CVH among employed and unemployed participants in the 2005–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Method The study population included 935 cardiovascular disease-free participants age 20 and older (731 employed, 204 unemployed). Employment status and work characteristics were derived from self-report questionnaires. Poor, intermediate and ideal levels of CVH and its components were defined using American Heart Association criteria. Weighted means and percentages were calculated using SUDAAN 10.0; models were adjusted for age, sex and ethnicity.
Results Mean number of ideal CVH components was significantly higher for employed compared to unemployed participants; 17.7% of those employed had ideal CVH compared to 12.2% of those unemployed. Ideal CVH was significantly lower for those in construction, manufacturing and transportation industries (8.6%) and in precision, product and transportation occupations (4.4%). Ideal CVH was significantly higher for afternoon shift (26.7%) compared to night/rotating (10.9%) and day (18.2%) shift workers.
Conclusions Understanding unique stressors and exposures for persons working in manufacturing, transportation and construction industries would be an important next step in designing interventions to improve their CVH.
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