Work more than three hours overtime per day is bad for the heart

The results of a study involving more than 10,000 officers in London (UK) suggest that work more than three hours overtime per day is detrimental to the heart. The research, published in the “European Heart Journal, has found that people who worked more than three hours above the normal workday of seven hours had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems, such as death from heart disease, heart attacks and angina compared to those who meet your schedule.

The relationship between working long hours and coronary disease independent of other factors, said Dr. Marianna Virtanen, working with the Finnish Institute of Health and the University of London. “Our results suggest a link between long working hours and an increased risk of heart disease, but more research is needed before we can determine with absolute certainty that overtime is a direct cause of the ills of the heart” he said.

The Whitehall II study began in 1985 and recruited 10 308 workers between 35 and 55 years of 20 civil service departments based in London. The data were collected at regular intervals and in the third phase from 1991-1994, introduced a question about working hours. This current analysis takes into account the results of 6014 persons (4262 men and 1752 women), aged between 39 and 61, who were followed from 2002 to 2004, is the latest phase of the trial.

During the average 11.2 years of follow-up, Dr. Virtanen and colleagues in Finland, London and France found 369 cases of fatal coronary heart disease, nonfatal myocardial infarction or angina pectoris. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors such as age, sex, marital status and level of work, found work three to four hours of overtime was associated with a 60% higher rate of heart disease compared to those who carried out the normal day .

“A plausible explanation for the increase could be that both adverse lifestyle changes in risk factors are more common among those working in excess,” Dr Virtanen said. Another possibility is that the experience of chronic stress (often associated with long working hours) would adversely affect metabolic processes.

Despite warnings from the authors about the limitations of the study, the results “reinforce the notion that work stress attributable to overtime is associated, apparently independently, with a higher risk of heart disease, said Gordon McInnes, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Glasgow (United Kingdom). “If the effect is truly causal, the importance is much greater. The stress induced by working overtime may contribute to an important part of cardiovascular disease,” he said.

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