Purpose Hypertension is one of the most relevant risk factors for cardiovascular disease; however, little is known about differences in hypertension by occupation. The aim of this study was to explore the association between occupational group and prevalent hypertension.
Methods Cross-sectional data of the CARLA study were used, a representative sample of an East German population aged 45–83. Job titles of the current or last held occupation of 967 men and 808 women were coded using the German classification of occupation. Hypertension was defined as blood pressure of ≥140 mmHg (systolic), ≥90 mmHg (diastolic) or use of antihypertensives. Sex-stratified, age-adjusted prevalence risk ratios (PR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for 31 occupational groups.
Results Hypertension was prevalent in 79% of the population. In men, highest age-adjusted prevalence ratios were observed in metal-processing workers, carpenters/painters, and electricians with PRs of 1.31 (CI 1.04–1.65), 1.28 (CI 1.00–1.64), and 1.21 (0.95–1.53), respectively, compared to office clerks. In women, highest PRs were found in technicians/forewomen, scrutinisers/storekeepers, and food-processing occupations with PR 1.28 (1.09–1.49), 1.23 (0.99–1.51), and 1.22 (1.01–1.48), respectively. Adjustment for education, smoking, body mass index, and current work hours did not fully explain occupational differences. Excluding currently non-working subjects lead to decreased PRs in men and to increased PR in women.
Conclusions Differences in the prevalences of hypertension by occupational group were only partly explained by conventional risk factors and may require workplace interventions targeted at high-risk occupations. Longitudinal data with large cohorts and work-related exposure assessment are needed to confirm a temporal relationship between occupation and incident hypertension.
2011. Vol. 84, 361-369 p.