Harvard Heart Letter

Longer work hours may boost stroke risk


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People who work long hours may face a higher risk of stroke, according to a study published online Aug. 20, 2015, by Lancet.

Researchers pooled data from 17 studies from the United States, Europe, and Australia that followed more than 528,000 workers for an average of just over seven years. None of the participants had cardiovascular disease when they signed up for the studies.

After controlling for socioeconomic status, smoking, physical activity, high blood pressure, and other confounding factors, the researchers found that people who worked at least 55 hours a week were 33% more likely to have a stroke than those who worked a standard full-time schedule of 35 to 40 hours a week. People who work long hours may also spend more time sitting, sleep less, and have higher stress levels—all of which have been linked to a higher risk of stroke. Given the potentially devastating consequences of a stroke, people who often work overtime might want to make sure to eat a healthy diet and get enough rest.