Overcommitment to work is associated with changes in cardiac sympathetic regulation.

T.G.M. Vrijkotte, L.J.P. van Doornen, E.J.C. de Geus

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Objective: Work stress is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Exaggerated cardiovascular reactivity to work-related stressors or incomplete recovery after work is a proposed mechanism underlying this increase in risk. This study examined the effects of work stress on 24-hour profiles of the pre-ejection period (PEP), a measure of cardiac sympathetic activity, obtained from ambulatory measurement of the impedance cardiogram. Methods: A total of 67 male white-collar workers (age 47.1 ± 5.2) underwent ambulatory monitoring on 2 workdays and 1 non-workday. Work stress was defined according to Siegrist's model as 1) a combination of high effort and low reward at work (high imbalance) or 2) an exhaustive work-related coping style (high overcommitment). Results: High overcommitment was associated with shorter absolute PEP levels during all periods on all 3 measurement days, reduced wake-to-sleep PEP differences and reduced PEP variability, as indexed by the SD. Conclusions: Overcommitment to work was associated with an increase in basal sympathetic drive and a reduction in the dynamic range of cardiac sympathetic regulation. Both findings are compatible with the hypothesis that overcommitment induces β-receptor down-regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-663
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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