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Working long hours may raise cardiovascular disease risk: study

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Houston – Working more than 45 hours per week may increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, according to a study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, researchers examined data of more than 1,900 people who worked a minimum of a decade from 1986 to 2011. About 43 percent of the participants experienced a cardiovascular disease event diagnosed by a doctor during the study period. CVD events included angina, coronary heart disease or failure, heart attack, high blood pressure, or stroke.

After adjusting for participants’ age, gender, race and wage status, researchers found that risk of a CVD event rose by 1 percent for each additional hour worked each week during at least 10 years in full-time workers.

CVD risk steadily increased starting at 46 work hours per week. Risk was 16 percent higher for workers who logged 55 hours per week and 35 percent higher for employees who worked 60 hours per week, compared with those who worked 45 hours per week for at least 10 years.

Risk was lowest among full-time employees who worked 40 to 45 hours per week.

For employees working more than 30 hours per week, risk rose as their hours neared 40 per week, but risk then decreased as their hours reached 40 to 45 per week.

“This study provides specific evidence on long work hours and an increase [in] the risk of CVD, thereby providing a foundation for CVD prevention efforts focused on work schedule practices, which may reduce the risk of CVD for millions of working Americans,” study author Sadie H. Conway, of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, said in a press release.

The study was published in the March issue of the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

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