A new Canadian study found that too many overtime hours could lead to an increased risk of repeat heart attacks. The study revealed that working more than 55 hours a week after a heart attack posed the greatest risk. People who worked that long were twice as likely to have a new heart attack as those who worked 35 to 40 hours a week.
Dr. Alain Milot, a professor of medicine at Laval University in Canada, was a co-author of the study. The professor of medicine at Laval University in Canada commented on the dangers of working long hours after a heart attack. He said the risk is compared to the effects of heavy smoking. He added that governments and city officials must enforce mandates to reduce working hours. This would help reduce the risks of heart attacks in coronary patients.
According to the International Labor Office, around 36% of workers worldwide work more than 48 hours a week. The regions of the world most affected by excessive working hours include South and East Asia and the Arab states.
In developed countries, men are twice as likely as women to work long hours. Men also work longer hours than women in developing countries, although to a lesser extent. However, in general, the proportion of people who work long hours is more than double in developing countries than in developed ones.
Excessively long hours of work not only increase the risk of a recurrence of heart attacks.
Other dangers of working too many hours include the following:
- Increased risk of Alcohol abuse. People who work more than 48 hours a week are 13% more likely to have a new risky alcohol use. This equates to 14 drinks for women and 21 drinks for men per week.
- You have a higher chance of develop depression. People who work 11 hours or more per day have more cases of depression than those who work seven to eight hours.
- Overworking means that your cortisol levels will remain elevated for long periods of time. Not only does this put pressure on your heart, it can also cause weight gain, sleep problems, and other major problems.
- Working long hours increases the chance of developing back or neck pain. The pain you feel after working so hard is caused by muscle tension. This happens when you stay in one position for a long time or perform repetitive movements.
- Working 45 hours or more per week increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in women. Women who work too long hours they were 63% more likely to develop the disease compared to those who worked normal hours.
- It leads to a shorter life expectancy. Studies They have found that working more than 48 hours a week could shorten life expectancy by 10 years.
Study showing long hours at work increase risk of repeat heart attacks
For the first-mentioned study, Milot’s team collected data on nearly 1,000 men and women. In the mid-1990s, all were under the age of 60, employed, and had a history of heart attacks.
The researchers interviewed the participants and asked them to fill out questionnaires over six years. They wanted to document cases of heart disease, hospitalizations, and lifestyle risk factors.
The questionnaires also raised broad questions about working conditions at their jobs. They included questions about exposure to smoking, chemicals; contamination; noise; excessive heat, cold, or physical exertion; and hours worked weekly. Finally, the research team measured the participants’ stress levels, work tension, and social support both at work and at home.
During the study period, 22% of the participants had a repeat heart attack. The researchers found that working long hours doubled the risk of having a second.
The questionnaires revealed that two groups seemed to work the longest hours: the men and the youngest workers. Those who smoked, drank alcohol, and had a sedentary lifestyle were also more likely to work long hours. Finally, workers with stressful jobs also logged excessive hours.
Better ways to prevent heart attacks
Dr. Gregg Fonarow, acting chief of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), reviewed the study. He said that in previous studies, men and women who worked long hours had higher risks for stroke, cardiovascular disease and premature cardiovascular death.
However, for this study, he said that too few patients had repeat heart attacks for him to say there is a correlation. Only 95 people in the study worked long hours (more than 55 per week). Therefore, he believes that larger studies are needed to determine whether reducing work hours alone would reduce repeat heart attacks.
He went on to say that the best preventive measures against heart attacks include medical care and lifestyle changes. Medications, cardiac rehabilitation, exercise, and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of a repeat heart attack.
Dr. Jian Li of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health co-authored a editorial published in conjunction with the study. In the editorial, the researchers suggested that heart attack patients complete a standard questionnaire about their work hours and work stress. In this way, doctors can better understand your needs and formulate an appropriate treatment plan. Additionally, Li said cardiac rehabilitation programs that teach patients about healthy living could help them relax and increase resilience.
The findings were published online on March 29, 2021, in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
It’s no secret that our modern world requires us to work too many hours. Human beings need work to feel productive, but going to the extreme leads to unhappiness. It can also increase your risk of developing physical and mental health problems, such as heart attacks. The study found that working more than 55 hours a week doubled the risk of a new heart attack.
The best ways to reduce your risk of having a heart attack are the building blocks of health. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy, practice relaxation techniques like meditation, and spend time outdoors. Living in the modern world makes these things more difficult, but not impossible. Staying healthy not only helps you perform better at work, it also increases your overall quality of life.