April 5, 2011

USA: Long Hours at the Office May Add to Heart Trouble

NEW YORK / The New York Times / Health / April 5, 2011

Vital Signs
Patterns: Long Hours May Add to Heart Trouble

By Roni Caryn Rabin

When assessing a patient’s risk for heart disease, doctors take into account such factors as age, cholesterol and smoking status. A new study suggests an additional measure: long working hours.

Health Guide: Heart Attack
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People who worked 11 hours or more per day were far more likely to develop heart trouble over a 12-year period, compared with similar subjects who worked seven to eight hours a day, the new study found. It was published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

In the early 1990s, British researchers examined 7,095 adults aged 39 to 62, including 2,109 women, and used the information to score each subject’s risk for coronary heart disease. About 10 percent reported long workdays.

Over 12.3 years of follow-up on average, 29 participants died of heart disease and 163 suffered nonfatal heart attacks.

Those who had reported working 10 or more hours a day were not at significantly greater risk than those who had worked less. But those subjects who had been working 11 or more hours a day were 66 percent more likely to have a heart attack or to die of one, the researchers found.

Mika Kivimaki, the paper’s lead author and a professor of social epidemiology at University College London, said it was not clear whether long working days were causing the increased risk or were simply a marker that could be used to predict risk.

But it is possible, he said, “the chronic experience of stress often associated with working long hours adversely affects metabolic processes,” or leads to depression and sleep problems.

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