Pulling long hours at work can compromise heart health

People who work 55 hours or more a week are 40 per cent more like to develop irregular heart rhythm

People who work 55 hours or more a week are 40 per cent more like to develop irregular heart rhythm

People who work long hours are putting their heart at greater risk according to new research published in the European Heart Journal.

The study found people who work 55 hours or more are approximately 40 per cent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heart rhythm, compared to those who worked 35 to 40 hours a week.

"Atrial fibrillation is known to contribute to the development of stroke, but also other adverse health outcomes, such as heart failure and stroke-related dementia," said lead researcher, professor Mika Kivimaki.

Data from around 85,500 people from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Finland was collected between 1991 and 2004.

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During the ten year follow-up period, there were 12.4 cases of atrial fibrillation for every 1000 people in the study, but among people working 55 hours or more there was an increase to 17.6 cases per 1000. 

"Nine out of ten of the atrial fibrillation cases occurred in people who were free of pre-existing or concurrent cardiovascular disease.

"This suggests the increased risk is likely to reflect the effect of long working hours rather than the effect of any pre-existing or concurrent cardiovascular disease, but further research is needed to understand the mechanisms involved," Kivimaki said.

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Working hours were only assessed once at the beginning of the study and the type of job people worked, such as desk-bound or manual labour, was not recorded. 

However, Kivimaki argued that he "didn't think the results would have been dramatically different" if this data was recorded "because people tend to keep their working patterns".

 - Stuff

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