Commuting more stressful than air combat

Nov 30 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Coming only a day after the revelation that going to work with a cold can double your risk of developing coronary heart disease, we now learn that just getting to work can be more stressful than being a fighter pilot or a riot policeman.

Research by stress specialist Dr David Lewis compared the heart rates and blood pressure of commuters with those of pilots and police officers.

He found that in some ways, commuting was worse because a riot policeman or a combat pilot have things they can do to combat the stress that is being triggered by the event.

"It's a bit extreme to say people are actually damaging themselves - we don't know that," he told the BBC. "But they are certainly not benefiting from it.

"At best it's a dismal experience; at worst it may well have health consequences.

"How much harm it is doing would depend on how robust your physical system is anyhow and how high your blood pressure goes.

"We have measured a systolic pressure [the force blood exerts on the artery walls when the heart beats] in the region of 170-180 in some people.

"These have been occasions when the person we've been monitoring has lost their temper and had a serious row. And under those circumstances you can have a heart attack."

BBC Online | Commuters 'suffer extreme stress'