Working with idiots can kill

Jul 11 2007 by Print This Article

If you haven't received it yourself yet, don't be surprised if an email lands in your inbox purporting to warn you that working with idiots can cause fatal stress-related problems.

Stress is one of the top causes of heart attacks - and working with stupid people on a daily basis is one of the deadliest forms of stress, according to researchers at Sweden's Lindbergh University Medical Center.

The author of the study, Dr. Dagmar Andersson, says her team studied 500 heart attack patients, and were puzzled to find 62 percent had relatively few of the physical risk factors commonly blamed for heart attacks.

"Then we questioned them about lifestyle habits, and almost all of these low-risk patients told us they worked with people so stupid they can barely find their way from the parking lot to their office. And their heart attack came less than 12 hours after having a major confrontation with one of these oafs.

But don't go rushing to the nearest cardiologist. Because according to, the email is a fake. The article actually originated in the American tabloid newspaper the Weekly World News, which is notorious for outrageous, and largely false, stories - try Honeymoon Couple Attacked by Goldfish, for starters.

Nevertheless, the e-mail has taken on a life of its own and continues to circulate to inboxes around the world.

So why do so many of us feel the need to share this with our friends? Does it imply that there are thousands of us out there who honestly feel we work with galactically stupid people - or is this just a way to try to get a laugh during a work day?

I think the former - because, like all the best hoaxes, there's more than a grain of truth about it.

You can cut back on smoking or improve your diet," Dr. Andersson says, "but most people have very poor coping skills when it comes to stupidity - they feel there's nothing they can do about it, so they just internalize their frustration until they finally explode." has no opinion on way or the other on that.