Chances of getting a stroke “more likely” with longer working hours

James Nickerson
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Those who work longer hours face a larger risk of having a stroke (Source: Getty)

It might be time to cut back on that overtime - it turns out those working longer hours are more likely to have a stroke, according to a new study.

An analysis of just over 600,000 people published in the Lancet Medical Journal showed those working more than the standard nine to five were as much as a third more likely to have a stroke. What a way to make a living...

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The study compared those working standard hours of 35-40 hours per work, with those working up to 48 hours per week, up to 54 hours per week and over 55 hours per week.

It found in comparison to a 35-40 hour week, those working up to 48 hours per week increased their risk by 10 per cent. Working as many as 54 hours increased the risk by 27 per cent against the standard week, while working over 55 hours increased the risk by 33 per cent.

The researchers said they cannot state "beyond doubt" that long hours cause people to have strokes, but the study suggested there is a link which gets stronger as people work longer.

The research was carried out on three continents and led by scientists at University College London. The results back up beliefs that extra stress at work and long-hours can be harmful to health.

“Long working hours were also associated with incident coronary heart disease, but this association was weaker than that for stroke," said the researchers.

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"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.

"Heavy alcohol consumption—a risk factor for all types of stroke—might be a contributing factor because employees working long hours seem to be slightly more prone to risky drinking than are those who work standard hours."

Those who work longer hours are also more likely to ignore the warning signs and symptoms of a disease, the report said.

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