heart attackHigh pressure jobs with heavy workloads, tight deadlines and restricted decision-making create significant cardiac risk in the people who hold them, according to research published in the medical journal Lancet.

Although smoking and not exercising are more damaging to heart health, researchers found that people in stressful jobs are 23 percent more likely to have heart attacks. The study of nearly 200,000 Europeans with no history of coronary heart disease found that 3.4 percent of heart attacks were caused by job strain, while 36 percent was attributable to smoking and 12 percent to lack of exercise.

"Our findings indicate that job strain is associated with a small, but consistent, increased risk of experiencing a first CHD event such as a heart attack," said lead researcher Mika Kivimaki from University College London.

Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, noted that, although the findings confirmed that occupational stress is dangerous, smoking and leading a sedentary lifestyle is far worse for heart health.