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August 20, 2015

Study: Working long hours could increase risk of stroke, heart disease

Employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke and heart disease than those working standard hours, according to a recent study published in The Lancet medical journal.

The study found that individuals who work 55 hours or more per week have a one- to three-times higher risk of incident stroke than those working standard hours. 

While long working hours were also associated with coronary heart disease, the association was weaker than that for stroke.

Sudden death from overwork is often caused by stroke and is believed to result from a repetitive triggering of the stress response. Behavioural mechanisms, such as physical inactivity, might also link long working hours and stroke; a hypothesis supported by evidence of an increased risk of incident stroke in individuals who sit for long periods at work.

"These findings suggest that more attention should be paid to the management of vascular risk factors in individuals who work long hours," the report says.

A Pennsylvania court recently awarded a widow death benefits after her husband collapsed and died of a heart attack during his 14-hour shift working for a municipal water department.

Read the full study here.