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Why Long Work Hours May Increase the Risk for Stroke


When strokes come up for discussion, everybody pays attention. Like heart attacks, they are scary. As we consider the risk, most people now spend more time pursuing healthy diets and finding ways to increase their exercise time. But new information about working long hours may be another issue to be fully aware of when we consider strokes.

New research analysis in the medical journal, Lancet, showed people working long hours, more than nine to five, are more likely to have a stroke. More than a half a million people were included in the study.

Having a 48 hour work week, compared to 35 or 40 hours, increases the risk of stroke by 10 percent. Working 54 hours increases the risk by 27 percent and over 55 hours by 33 percent.

The study showed that in comparison to a 35-40 hour week, working up to 48 hours increased the risk by 10%, up to 54 hours by 27% and over 55 hours by 33%.

The researchers from the University College London said they were in the early stages of this research. They noted stressful jobs and varied lifestyles are also stroke factors.

In a competitive, fast moving world, working long hours is often regarded as one of many factors that happen with some regularity.

Most of us, at one time or another, have found ourselves working weekends or staying late to pull projects through. One of the questions in the light of the new stroke risk data might be, "how frequent are long hour sessions?" Are you a regular, putting in over 55 hours a week and boosting your risk by 33 percent? Or do you just put in the extra hours when you need to, and then compensate by taking an extra day off here or there.

Keeping a healthy attitude about long work hours could be more important than most of us have thought. Factors like age, long term goals and fluctuating work situations can also play into it. It’s a very individual thing. I have known researchers who thrived on 24-7 schedules for years, and others who did it for a brief period and then just stopped, deciding it was not worth it.

Overall, the researchers advised workers putting in long hours should monitor their blood pressure, break up long periods of sitting, prepare healthy meals and include exercise in their routines. Dr. Tim Chico, a consultant cardiologist based at the University of Sheffield, supported this advice saying healthy habits becomes even more important when long hours are spent at work.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Jim Larrison

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