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Bosses affect heart-related health

The chance of a worker suffering from serious heart disease is linked to the quality of leadership their manager brings to the job, according to research.

Experts from Sweden looked at the heart-related health of more than 3,000 employed men as part of the Work, Lipids, and Fibrinogen Stockholm study, the British Medical Journal reported.

All the participants were asked to rate the leadership style of their senior managers, using a validated scoring system.

Over a 10-year period, 74 cases of fatal and nonfatal heart attack, acute angina, or deaths from ischaemic heart disease occurred.

The study, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found that the higher senior managers were ranked, the lower the risk of a serious heart problem or death among employees.

The reverse was also true, with the association between poor leadership and the risk of serious heart disease strengthening the longer an employee worked for the same company – suggesting that the effects of leadership could be cumulative.

The authors wrote: "One could speculate that a present and active manager, providing structure, information and support, counteracts destructive processes in work groups, thereby promoting regenerative rather than stress-related physiological processes in employees."

Copyright © Press Association 2008

Occupational and Environmental Medicine