Harvard Women's Health Watch

Research we're watching: Working overtime may raise stroke risk

If you're "leaning in" by putting in extra hours on the job, you may be gaining gender equality that you don't want—the same stroke risk as your male colleagues. A recent analysis indicates that women who work 55 hours or more per week have a 30% higher risk of having a stroke than those working standard hours, making them just as likely to have a stroke as their male counterparts.

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The analysis, published online Aug. 20, 2015, by The Lancet, was conducted by European public health re-searchers. It involved data from over 600,000 women and men enrolled in long-term observational studies in Europe and the United States. It was the first such analysis of the relationship between working long hours and stroke. The researchers noted several factors that might have contributed to the elevated stroke risk, including the additional stress of balancing the extra work hours, inactivity, long periods of sitting, and ignoring stroke warning signs.

The findings serve as a reminder to try to reduce stress at work. Break every hour for a short walk and a few minutes of deep breathing. And don't dismiss symptoms like sudden headache, weakness, or vision loss. They demand immediate medical attention.