Overtime linked to heart attacks

U.K. study followed 6,000 civil servants in London

Three hours of overtime a day puts office workers into a group that has a 60 per cent higher chance of heart disease, a study of 6,000 English white-collar workers reports.

Researchers from University College in London and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health noted that white collar workers who regularly work three or more hours on top of a seven-hour day are at risk for heart problems, while one or two extra hours did not have an impact on health. Workers were followed for an 11-year period.

The reasons why excessive overtime causes heart disease is unknown, and the answers could be complicated, researchers warn. Individuals who are driven to regularly work extra hours may not get enough sleep or downtime, may suffer from being aggressive personalities in other areas other their lives, or may be the type of people who ignore early symptoms of health problems. Or it could be related to stress associated with long work hours.

Researchers added it is important for a proper balance of work and leisure time to reduce stress that can lead to heart disease, and that doctors should be extra vigilant about the heart health of patients who work long hours.

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