People who regularly put in overtime and work 10 or 11-hour days can increase their risk of heart disease by nearly two-thirds, according to new research.
A study of 6,000 UK civil servants, published in the European Heart Journal, found that, after accounting for known heart risk factors such as smoking, people who work three to four hours of overtime a day potentially run a 60% higher risk.
The study was part funded by the British Heart Foundation and was designed to gauge the link between working overtime and a higher risk of coronary heart disease in white-collar workers.
Cathy Ross, senior cardiac nurse at the foundation, said the study raised further questions about how working lives could influence the risk of heart disease.
“Although the researchers showed a link between working more than three hours’ overtime every day and heart problems, the reasons for the increased risk weren’t clear,” she cautioned.
Possibilities included “hidden” high blood pressures, reduced sleeping hours, increased psychological stress, or simply the fact that people had less time to look after themselves, she added.
“If we’re stuck in the office we’ve less time to relax, get a good night’s sleep, and take enough physical activity, all of which have been found to help reduce stress levels and protect against heart disease,” she added.
A separate study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine argued that high-pressure jobs can increase the risk of heart disease for young women.