Long hours increase employees' risk of heart-related problems
The findings from the long-running research project, published in the European Heart Journal, examined more than 10,000 employees in the United Kingdom. Researchers found that compared with individuals who did not work overtime employees who worked three or more hours longer than a normal seven-hour day had a 60 percent higher risk of heart-related problems. The study found that the association between long hours and coronary heart disease was independent of a range of risk factors, including smoking, being overweight, or having high cholesterol.
Dr. Marianna Virtanen, lead researchers an epidemiologist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, Finland, and University College London, said there could be a number of possible explanations for the association. The study found that working overtime was related to individuals with the type A behavior pattern, who tend to be aggressive, competitive, tense, time-conscious and generally hostile. In addition, overtime work was associated with psychological distress manifested by depression and anxiety, and a lack of sleep or not enough time to unwind before going to sleep.
Virtanen said other possible explanations include high blood pressure that is associated with work-related stress but doesn't necessarily show up during a medical check-up and "sickness presenteeism" whereby employees who work overtime are more likely to work while ill, ignore symptoms of ill health, and not seek medical help.
The researchers plan to examine whether working long hours predicts changes in lifestyle, mental health, and traditional risk factors, such as blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol.
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July 15, 2010
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