When it comes to your heart health and the risks for heart disease, we may soon be adding spending long hours working to the list. There's a new bit of research, conducted on office workers from Britain that found those who worked longer hours than their fellow workers had a much higher risk of experiencing a heart attack.
Those who worked 11 hour or longer days were nearly 70% more likely to suffer with heart disease compared to those who worked the more common 7 to 8 hours a day.
Besides upping the risk of heart disease, long workdays also puts some into higher category of risk according to the researchers. We know that work hours in the US exceeded most of Europe and Japan.
Researchers suggest that many things could be behind the increase in risk for those who work long hours. Obviously this type of schedule does not allow much time for exercise. More time at the office also means you're exposed to increased stress for longer periods, and get less time for sleep and relaxation
The research on working hours and heart health followed over 7,000 British civil servants between 1991 to 2004 who were considered low risk and screened for symptoms of heart disease.
The participants reported on how much time they spent at the office or worked on things at home. Around 70% of the subjects were men and 91% were white. Just under 3% developed heart disease by the time the study period ended.
Time at the office is increasingly becoming a subject for research, and adding this to a score for heart disease risk, that includes data like age, gender, blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking status allowed for reclassifying patients considered low risk about 5% of the time.
So if a patient was considered low risk according to heart score alone, they might be moved into an increased risk category just by working those long hours at the office on a regular basis.
The type of work may also be a factor. Those who have little sense of control or power to make decisions on the job have an increased risk of heart disease.
Long hours working are more common than ever before, and this very well might increase the odds of heart disease, though this work does not show cause and effect. Earlier studies in both Japan and Europe has echoed the finding of the British study, and provides new information for doctors regarding lifestyle suggestions that they may make to their patients.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US for both men and women. And while men in their 40s have an increased risk compared to women, after menopause a woman's risk rises to near that of men.
Genetics also play a role, and while you can not do anything about the impact this has on your heart health, or turn back the clock on any health conditions (diabetes, metabolic syndrome) you already have, you can make changes to your lifestyle , including cutting long hours working on the job, that might help keep your heart healthy.