For Executives

For Executives

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Executive health risks

Humans have evolved over millennia to respond to acute physical emergencies, mainly through the short-lived “fight or flight” response. However, we now activate our physiological systems through chronic stressors such as worrying about work, job security, finances or relationships. The results are often harmful and sometimes catastrophic.

Stress occurs when the pressures on an individual are greater than their ability to cope with those pressures. The resulting stress causes the body’s adrenal glands to release cortisol which increases blood sugar and suppresses the immune system, which means that the body becomes highly vulnerable. Sustained stress causes hypertension (raised blood pressure) and elevated levels of cholesterol. These in turn lead to significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes. Chronic stress increases anxiety levels and the incidence of depression, and also reduces memory function. A person under chronic stress will usually also suffer from muscle tension. Other possible effects that are not immediately apparent are an accelerated ageing process and a reduction in fertility level. There is also clear evidence linking stress to accident rates, whether within the workplace or whilst driving a car.

A strong correlation has been established between central obesity (an excess of abdominal fat) and cardiovascular disease. Abdominal fat produces a range of hormones, thereby increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes in obese individuals.

Many executives’ lifestyles increase the risk of hidden health problems, including certain symptomless cancers. Often, these problems are caused or exacerbated by unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.
Obesity, diabetes and hypertension all increase the risk of aneurysm (a bulge in the wall of a blood vessel) as does excessive tobacco and alcohol use.

The likelihood of coronary artery disease is also linked with the number of hours worked.

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