Working 41+ Hours per Week

2015-0822 Medical Repurcussions

Excerpt of Article by Gillian Mohney | ABC News

A long work week doesn’t just mean less time for fun or friends, it can also mean an increased risk for certain cardiac events such as stroke or heart attack, according to a new study.

The large study published in the Lancet Medical Journal studied up to 603,838 individuals and found those who worked past a 40 hour work week faced increased health risks.

There was a 33 percent increased risk of stroke for workers who spend more than 55 hours a week at the office, even after controlling for certain behavioral risks such as smoking and alcohol consumption, according to researchers at University College London and Umeå University in Sweden who looked that people chosen from largely the same pool of study subjects.

The researchers also found people faced a 13 percent increased risk for coronary heart disease or heart attack if they worked more than 55 hours in a week.

For worker bees who spend extra hours on the job, the longer an employee worked past the 40-hour mark, the more they faced an increased risk for stroke or other cardiac events, the study found. People working just a few extra hours a week, between 41 and 48 hours per week, had a 10 percent higher risk of stroke, researchers found, and those working 49 to 54 hours had a 27 percent increased risk of stroke.

The findings are important to help employees and employers understand how long hours and stress can take a physical toll and on the workforce, experts said.

Dr. Roy Buchinsky, director of wellness at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and who was not involved in the study, said the findings may help people be less complacent about looking after their health when spending long hours in a stressful environment.

Narrowing of blood vessels means decreased blood flow, which can mean increased risk for a host of issues, including heart attack, stroke or erectile dysfunction.

While the health consequences of a long work week are serious, Buchinsky said there are simple steps any office worker can take to decrease the harmful effects of stress.

“Move around. If you’re on the phone at work, stand up. The key is to get the person up and about,” said Buchinsky who recommends getting up for one to two minutes every half hour.

He also noted it’s important to try and lower stress by taking deep breaths, meditating or simply going for walk.

“It’s not so much the hours. It’s how are we spending our time during those hours,” Buchinksy said. “People are being asked to do more with fewer resources.”


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Thanks to Gillian Mohney for writing the article; ABC News for committing its resources to publishing the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text in this post.

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