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The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of high cardiovascular risk and the trend of cardiovascular risk factors in a large sample of Belgian workers.
A cross-sectional study was performed on the data of workers under medical surveillance by the non-profit occupational health service IDEWE in 2018. The prevalence of poor health for smoking, physical activity, body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure according to the American Heart Association (AHA) definition was investigated. The presence of three or more poor cardiovascular health metrics was considered high cardiovascular risk. A log-binomial regression model was used to compare the prevalence of high cardiovascular risk between economic sectors taking into account age and gender and to calculate predicted probabilities of high cardiovascular risk.
Data about 212,792 workers were available. In 2018, overall, 7% of workers had high cardiovascular risk. Transport and construction had the highest prevalence of high cardiovascular risk, 14% and 12%, respectively. The lowest prevalence, 3%, was observed in education. Differences between sectors remained statistically significant after adjustment for age and gender. In men, workers in transport and storage and in construction had the highest predicted probability of high cardiovascular risk that increased with age. In women, highest predicted probability was observed in transport and storage.
When implementing health promotion initiatives, priority should be given to sectors and professions where risk factors are most prevalent or are increasing rapidly. Measures should be tailored to the special needs of the occupational groups at high risk.