A study from the University College London (UCL) published this week in the journal The Lancet has some startling news about working hours and the potential for having a stroke. The study found that those who work on average 55 hours or more per week have a 33 percent higher risk of stroke than those who work 35 to 40 hours weekly.
Those working 55 hours or more each week also had a 13 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, the study found. These numbers held after taking into account other risk factors such as age, alcohol consumption, smoking and socioeconomic status. Prof. Mika Kivimäki of the Epidemiology Department at UCL led the study.
Prof. Kivimäki did a meta-analysis of 25 prior studies that included data on 603,838 men and women from Australia, Europe and the USA. The subjects of the studies had been followed for, on average. 8.5 years. The study found that the longer people worked the greater risk they had of stroke or of developing coronary heart disease.
“The pooling of all available studies on this topic allowed us to investigate the association between working hours and cardiovascular disease risk with greater precision than has previously been possible,” Prof. Kivimäki said. “Health professionals should be aware that working long hours is associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke, and perhaps also coronary heart disease.”
Reasons for the greater risk may include maintaining a poor diet at work, long periods of sitting and lack of exercise.