The aims of the present study were to analyze the association between incident stroke, occupational class and stress and to examine whether the association is found in both men and women in a prospective study of Japanese male and female workers. A total of 3190 male and 3363 female Japanese community-dwelling workers aged 65 or under with no history of cardiovascular disease were followed. Occupational stress was evaluated using a demand-control questionnaire. The impact on stroke was examined in stratified analyses of occupational classes. We identified 147 incident strokes (91 in men and 56 in women) during the 11-year follow-up period. Men with high strain jobs (combination of high job demand and low job control) were nearly three times more likely to suffer from a stroke than men with low strain jobs (combination of low job demand and high job control). Among male workers in low occupational classes (blue-collar and non-managerial work), job strain was associated with a higher risk of stroke. In contrast, there was no association between job strain and incident stroke among male workers in high occupational classes (white-collar and managerial work). No statistically significant differences were found for stroke incidence among the job characteristic categories in all the female participants. However, significant, over five-fold excess risks were found among white-collar and managerial female workers exposed to high job strain, compared with their counterparts with low strain jobs. Our study of Japanese workers provided supportive evidence for vulnerability to occupational stress among lower occupational class workers in males but not in females.
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