Research suggests overtime may be risk factor for heart disease
The research suggests employees who work overtime may need to be watched more closely than other workers.
The researchers studied nearly 8,000 civil service workers who had no history of coronary heart disease. After adjusting for other risk factors such as gender, age, and cholesterol levels, the study found those working extra had the higher relative risk for heart disease than those who routinely worked a seven- or eight-hour day. Their results were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The researchers looked at data on 7,095 workers between the ages of 39 and 62. During an average 12 years of follow-up in which the participants were screened every five years for heart disease, 192 suffered nonfatal heart attacks or coronary death.
The goal of the study was to determine whether adding information on long working hours could enhance the ability of the Framingham risk model to predict coronary heart disease in a low-risk, employed population. The Framingham model includes factors such as smoking status, lipid levels, and blood pressure and is often used to determine someone's risk for developing coronary heart disease over a 10-year period.
"Given that working long hours is common and has increased in many developed countries in recent years, our study potentially has important implications," the study authors wrote. They stopped short of recommending changes in clinical practice until their findings had been replicated by other studies to make sure the results were generalizable.
If the results are replicated, asking patients how many hours they work and incorporating the information when measuring risks of heart disease could become standard practice, the authors said.
"This new information should help improve decisions regarding medication for heart disease," the study said. "It could also be a wake-up call for people who overwork themselves, especially if they already have other risk factors."
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May 5, 2011
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