The Longer You Work, the Greater Your Risk for Heart Disease

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The more hours you work, the greater your risk for heart disease.

Several observational studies have found an association of long work hours with an increased risk for cardiovascular illness. Now a new retrospective analysis has found there is a dose-response relationship: more hours, more risk.

Researchers began following 1,926 men and women in 1986, tracking their health and work history through 2011. Over the course of the study, in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 822 were given diagnoses of cardiovascular disease.

After adjusting for age, sex, income and other factors, they found that for each additional hour of work per week over 10 years, there was a 1 percent increase in the risk for heart disease.

Compared with working 45 hours a week, working 55 hours increased the risk by 16 percent, 60 hours by 35 percent, 65 hours by 52 percent, and 70 hours by 74 percent. Working 75 hours or more doubled the risk for a cardiovascular problem — angina, coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke or heart attack.

Still, the lead author, Sadie H. Conway, an assistant professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health, does not recommend that anyone alter work hours based on her study.

“I would never tell a person ‘don’t work long hours’ because of this risk, but it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored from a public health standpoint.”