Here is another issue that might possibly be related to psychosocial factors
and all that jazz.
Hypertension and mental problems are among the main reasons for early
retirement due to ill health. Over 50% of older Australians (over 50) who are
not in the workforce have "mental and behavioral disorders" and over a quarter
(28%) are known to suffer from hypertension (Schofield et al, 2008).
It is possible that many of those have cognitive impairment due to
hypertension either because their hypertension is untreated or simply not
because it has never been diagnosed. A recent study showed that US adults
over 65 have a significant cognitive advantage over those sampled in the UK;
the study found that more of those US adults were taking medication for
hypertension and it appears that this treatment might be associated with their
better cognitive function (Langa et al, 2009). A survey of the health of
workers at retirement age in the UK has shown that the prevalence of
hypertension is an area of concern (Davies and Holdsworth, 1985) hence this
should logically be dealt with long before their retirement from the workforce.
Recent research shows that many cases of hypertension are not detected by
conventional clinical testing. The advent of ambulatory blood pressure
monitoring for in clinical practice has shown that there is a group of patients
who are at risk from high blood pressure because they appear to be normal
("normotensive") by clinic measurement but they are found to be hypertensive
by ambulatory measurement. This problem has been called "Masked
Hypertension" or "Undetected Ambulatory Hypertension" (Pickering et al, 2002).
Job stress seemed to be one of the main causes of masked hypertension;
hence frequent measurements of the blood pressure (BP) at the work place
should be used to identify subjects with masked hypertension (Yamasue et al,
Pre-retirement occupation is risk factors for hypertension among seniors (Leigh
and Du, 2009); it is commonly thought that managers are at most risk but a
recent study found that female workers who are professionals, salespeople,
private household cleaning service workers, and personal service workers are
more likely than managers to report hypertension. Male workers who are
salespersons, personal service workers, mechanics, construction trades,
precisions production workers, and operators are more likely than managers to
report hypertension. Hence logically measurements of ambulatory BP at the
work place should be used to identify workers with masked hypertension in
high-risk occupations such as those.
Is anyone actually doing this?
David McFarlane MAppSc (Ergonomics)
Ergonomist, WorkCover NSW
1. D Schofield, R Shrestha, M Passey, A Earnest, S Fletcher, (2008), "Chronic
disease and labour force participation among older Australians", Med J Aust,
2008 Oct 20, 189, (8), pp 447-50. See
2. K Langa, D Llewellyn, I Lang, D Weir, R Wallace, M Kabeto, F Huppert,
(2009), "Cognitive health among older adults in the United States and in
England", BMC Geriatr, 2009 Jun 25, 9, (1), p 23.
3. L Davies, M Holdsworth, (1985), "Nutrition and health at retirement age in
the United Kingdom", Hum Nutr Appl Nutr, 1985 Oct, 39, (5), pp 315-32.
4. T Pickering, K Davidson, W Gerin, J Schwartz, (2002), "Masked
Hypertension", Hypertension, 40, pp 795-796.
5. K Yamasue, T Hayashi, K Ohshige, O Tochikubo, T Souma, (2008), "Masked
hypertension in elderly managerial employees and retirees", Clin Exp Hypertens,
Apr 2008, 30, (3), pp 203-11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18425700
6. J Leigh, J Du, (2009), "Hypertension and occupation among seniors", J
Occup Environ Med, 2009 Jun, 51, (6), pp 661-71.
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