A new study, published in The Lancet, has revealed that people who spend 55 hours or longer at work each week could have a 33% greater risk of having a stroke, and that they’re also at a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease too. The study, which is the largest of its kind to examine possible links between hours worked and the health of our hearts, was conducted last year by University College London (UCL) in the UK.
Americans are now working longer hours
Previous research, including a study carried out last year, has already shown that people who work in excess of 60 hours per week have a 42% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, compared to those workers who are at work for the standard 40 hours or less. At present, coronary heart disease and stroke are ranked first and fifth respectively, as the most common causes of death in the United States, so it’s important to understand the impact working extra hours may have. According to a survey conducted in 2014, the average working week in the United States now exceeds the standard 40 hours, with full-time employees reporting an average of 47 hours.
Risks remained the same irrespective of other risk factors
As part of their study, the researchers conducted a systematic review and analysis of previous studies from Europe, the United States and Australia. They analysed data from 25 studies, which involved over 600,000 people from three countries, collected over an average period of 8.5 years. The researchers discovered that people who worked for 55 hours or more per week were at a 13% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, plus this risk remained the same irrespective of other risk factors such as age, sex or socioeconomic status.
Longer working hours increase the risk of having a stroke too
People who spent above average hours at work were also at more risk of having a stroke. Data from 17 studies involving 500,000 people, over a period averaging 7.2 years, showed that the risk of stroke increased by 1.3 times in workers who spent 55 hours or more at work per week. Once again, this increased risk was there even after taking other factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure and cholesterol into account.
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