Long Working Hours and Heart Disease Risk

July 22, 2016
Long Hours and Heart Disease Risk

Most people admire hard workers, especially when they go the extra mile by clocking in more than 40 hours per week. Unfortunately, a recent study suggests that working long hours can increase heart disease risk, especially when work times exceed 46 hours per week.

The Price of Success

In search of a potential link between cardiovascular disease and long days at work, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston pored over data from over 1,900 subjects from a long-term study on health and work. All participants had been employed for a minimum of ten years, and each worked at least 40 hours per week.
At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted that 43 percent of the subjects were ultimately diagnosed with heart attack, heart disease, angina, stroke, high blood pressure or some other problem related to cardiovascular disease (CVD). They also determined that the risk of CVD increased when subjects worked more than 46 hours in a single week. In fact, the risk ascended by 1 percentage point for every additional work hour.

What it Means

Published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, this recent study suggests that increased work could result in health issues. That said, researchers were quick to explain that their study didn't necessarily prove a causal relationship between excessive work and CVD.
It's possible that people who work longer hours suffer more health problems, because they have less time to exercise and eat poorer diets. That said, a mountain of research has shown that increased stress can upset the body's hormonal balance, resulting in inflammation that can promote cardiovascular disease.

What You Can Do

If you're forced to work long hours at your job, it's especially important that you prioritize good eating habits and get regular exercise to help ward of disease. If you sit a lot at your job, try to get up every 30 minutes to stretch and walk around, since sitting has been linked to a number of serious health issues.
Most importantly, visit your doctor for a yearly physical to check for potential cardiovascular issues. While admirable, long hours at work could potentially put your health at risk. With this in mind, it's important to seek balance between career interests and long-term health.

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