Working long hours “increases stroke risk”

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BBC News reports “people working longer hours are more likely to have a stroke, according to analysis of more than half a million people.” Research was carried out by systematic review combined with meta-analysis to assess the impact of working long hours and developing coronary heart disease and stroke.

Researchers pooled the data from 25 previous studies that included healthy individuals, who were free from heart disease or any type of cardiovascular disease at enrolment. The study was carried out by researchers in the UK, Finland, France, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and Netherlands. The inclusion of both published and unpublished data was used to remove the risk of publication bias. The review then found that there was a link between working long hours and cardiovascular disease and developing a stroke.

The study found that the risk of developing a stroke increased for people who work more than 55 hours a week, compared to individuals working a traditional 9-5 working day. For stroke, long working hours were associated with a third increase of developing stroke (Relative Risk (RR) 1.33, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.11 to 1.61). The researchers conclude by saying “our meta-analysis shows that employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke then those working standard hours; the association with coronary heart disease is weaker. Our findings suggest that more attention should be paid to the management of vascular risk factors in individuals who work long hours.”

To conclude the research undertaken suggests that working long hours of 55 or more a week linked to a third increase of stroke, but the study cannot prove cause and effect. The researchers made adjustments for hereditary, health and lifestyle factors, but it is not possible to single out working hours as the direct cause of these events. Dr Shamin Quadir of the Stroke Association said “working long hours can involve sitting for long periods of time, experiencing stress, and leads to less time available to look after yourself.”


Written by Claire Collier

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