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Women have shown that they’re capable of pursuing any career they choose, but new research reveals that some of those choices may have more detrimental effects on their health. The recent study found that there are certain career fields that can negatively impact the heart health of women, particularly as they reach post-menopausal ages. The researchers involved in this study examined the heart health for 65,000 post-menopausal women and compared their health evaluations to their lines of work.

The research revealed that women who pursued careers as social workers had a 36% greater risk of developing heart problems later in life. Women who worked in retail through their adult lives faced a 33% greater risk of poor heart health in general. Women with careers in healthcare were found to have a 14-16% greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease by the time they reached post-menopausal ages. This included those working as nurses, home healthcare aides, psychiatric therapy providers, and RN nurses.

The findings were especially surprising in that these career fields require individuals to be physically active. Particularly nurses, who are required to care for multiple patients, should have been healthier, yet they tended to suffer from poorer heart health. Even after the researchers accounted for other variables, such as diet, age, education, and ethnicity, there was still an increase in heart disease among women in these career fields.

The study also found that some career fields actually benefited the heart health of older women. For instance, women who work as real estate agents and brokers have a 24% lower chance of developing heart problems. Women working as administrative assistants exhibited an 11% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The research compared heart health to 20 different career fields to determine how heart health was affected by the occupation. Bede Nriagu, who participated in conducting the study, noted that it was alarming that women in the healthcare field experienced the greatest heart health risks. In addition to the physical activity required in these positions, women in healthcare are better educated on the importance of heart health. Mr. Nriagu also suggested this research could help doctors identify patients facing greater risks of developing cardiovascular disease. By inquiring about a patient’s occupation, he suggests doctors can identify possible heart health risks early.