Women, employment status, and hypertension: Cross-sectional and prospective findings from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study

Kathryn M. Rose, Beth Newman, Herman A. Tyroler, Moyses Szklo, Donna Arnett, Narain Srivastava

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PURPOSE: This study examined the cross-sectional and prospective associations between employment status and hypertension among middle-aged, African-American (AA) and European-American (EA) women participating in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. METHODS: Employed women and homemakers from the baseline examination (1987-89) were included in the cross-sectional study (n = 7351). Associations between employment and the incidence of hypertension ascertained at visit 2 (1990-92) were determined among those who at baseline, had low-normal blood pressure (not hypertensive and systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≤ 120 mm Hg systolic and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≤ 80 mm Hg (n = 3194). Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between employment status and hypertension by ethnicity, taking into account covariates. RESULTS: At baseline, employed women were less likely to be hypertensive (SBP ≥ 140 mm Hg or DBP ≥ 90 mm Hg or current use of antihypertensive drugs) than were homemakers (prevalence odds ratio (POR) = 0.70; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.62-0.79), controlling for age, body mass index, and education. Among the subgroup who had low-normal blood pressure at baseline, employed women were less likely to develop hypertension during the three-year time period than were homemakers (odds ratio (OR) = 0.68; 95% CI = 0.44-1.05). The inverse association was stronger among AA (RR = 0.37; 95% CI = 0.16-0.88) than EA (OR = 0.83; 95% CI = 0.50-1.38) women. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the inverse association between hypertension and employment status is not due to a healthy worker effect, and that employment may confer protection against incident hypertension in women. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-382
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1999



  • African-American
  • Employment status
  • Hypertension
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology

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