Burning the midnight oil? You could put yourself at risk for a stroke. Workers who put in 55 hours per week or more had a 33 percent greater risk of stroke and a 13 percent greater risk of heart disease than people who worked 35 to 40 hours per week, according to study just published in the medical journal The Lancet.
Interestingly, the study didn't find a difference in stroke risk between men and women, between older workers and younger workers, or between workers of different socioeconomic statuses. Instead, the more an individual worked, the greater his or her risk of stroke.
"It was surprising," Mika Kivimaki, lead author on the study and a professor of epidemiology at University College London, told The Huffington Post. "Previously, we found that long working hours was associated with diabetes, but only among those with low socioeconomic status. In contrast, the association with stroke was seen in all groups."
Kivimaki's meta-analysis examining heart disease was comprised of 25 studies and data from more than 600,000 people across Europe, the United States and Australia. The stroke meta-analysis included 17 studies of more than 500,000 people.
Both genetics and lifestyle choices can impact a person's risk for stroke. Being overweight, smoking, having diabetes and having high blood pressure are all risk factors, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“You have higher blood pressure when you have job strain,” Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the Mayo Clinic, told the New York Times. “And guess what that’s associated with? Stroke." Kopecky noted that the analysis didn't take the effects of cholesterol, family blood pressure and family history into account as risk factors for stroke.
The study, which was observational, didn't provide strong evidence for cause and effect. Still, Kivimaki pointed HuffPost to the current recommendations for reducing heart disease risk and reducing vascular risk, and noted people working long hours should be especially diligent about keeping blood pressure in a normal range, staying physically active, eating healthfully and avoiding stress.
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