Sep 29, 2014 8:00 AM

Author: Office of Public Affairs


The next time your boss asks you to work late, you have a new excuse: It’s not good for your heart. 

A new study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reveals that more time on the job increases your risk of developing coronary heart disease. More than 16 million Americans have coronary heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. It’s the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S.

Researchers in South Korea interviewed 8,350 adults and asked them about their working hours, general health and lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise and smoking habits. They also examined the participants physically, checking their blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The researchers found that employees who worked 61–70 hours a week had a 42 percent increased likelihood of developing coronary heart disease than those who worked 31–40 hours a week. Those who worked 71–80 hours a week had a 63 percent increased likelihood, while those working more than 80 hours a week had a 94 percent increased likelihood.

“Longer work hours will often lead to reduced stress recovery and recreation and a decrease in the quantity and quality of sleep, which both lead to an increase in overall stress,” explains Rick Henriksen, MD, MPP, director of the primary care track and family medicine clerkship at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

“Chronic stress without appropriate recovery can lead to an increase in the level of stress hormones, and therefore total body inflammation, which some surmise can lead to an increased risk of heart disease,” he says.

Henriksen’s advice: “It is important to organize our lives in a way to support overall health. Make time for stress reduction, appropriate sleep, healthy nutrition, and movement in the form of recreation.” 

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