Working long hours increases risk of developing heart condition, study says

Office workers

Office workers

"For a healthy, young person, with few if any of these risk factors, the absolute increased risk of atrial fibrillation associated with long working hours is small", he said. Obviously, monitoring of working hours over several years would be more ideal than a one-off measurement at the start of the study.

Researchers at University College London found that compared to people who work between 35 and 40 hours each week. those who on 55 hours or more were around 40 per cent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, a condition which causes the heart to race and can led to dizziness, shortness of breath and palpitations.

After 10 years, there were 1061 cases of atrial fibrillation indicating that 12 in every 1000 participants had developed the condition.

People who work long hours may have an increased risk of developing irregular heart rhythm, scientists have warned.

The study showed that as compared to people who worked a normal week of between 35-40 hours, those who worked for 55 hours a week were 40 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation.

"This could be one of the mechanisms that explain the previously observed increased risk of stroke among those working long hours", said Kivimaki.

'Significantly, this study clearly shows that the link between atrial fibrillation and long working hours has nothing to do with the other, already known, risk factors for the condition'.

Results from the study of 85,500 men and women from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Finland are reported in the European Heart Journal. "This is even after we had adjusted for factors that could affect the risk, such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, obesity, leisure time physical activity, smoking and risky alcohol use".

'Atrial fibrillation is known to contribute to the development of stroke, but also other adverse health outcomes, such as heart failure and stroke-related dementia'.

'Nine out of 10 of the atrial fibrillation cases occurred in people who were free of pre-existing or concurrent cardiovascular disease.

The team want this 40% risk factor to be highlighted particularly to people who already have a high overall risk of heart problems due to older age, male sex, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, smoking and physical inactivity, or living with an established cardiovascular disease.

He added: "The great strength of our study was its size, with almost 85,000 participants, which makes it large by the standard of any study in this field".

'The suggestion that longer working hours may be a cause of atrial fibrillation is very interesting.

"Only then can we look at our recommendations".

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