Is Your Job Hurting Your Heart?

working long hoursThe average workweek has become increasingly longer as there is a higher demand from employees. This means that many of us are spending longer hours at the office or even bringing our work home with us. As demand increases, so does the length of the work week.

Many companies admire employees who dedicate their days to a company, but unfortunately, this isn’t wise if you want to ensure your employees stay working for years to come. Working long hours can have a negative effect on heart health.


Previous research has linked long working hours with a higher risk of stroke and coronary artery disease. More recent research uncovered that working 55 hours or more a week can increase the risk of atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat.

Atrial fibrillation is a result of the electrical signals of the heart going haywire, causing heartbeats to flutter and race. Living with atrial fibrillation greatly increases a person’s risk of a more serious heart condition occurring.

The study looked at nearly 85,500 workers from Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, and the UK. None of the participants had a history of atrial fibrillation. Participants work hours were documented, and at the end of 10 years, participants’ health was evaluated again. There were 1,061 new cases of atrial fibrillation by the end of the study – or 12.4 new cases per 1,000 persons.
After closer examination, participants who worked longer hours had higher incidences of atrial fibrillation of 17.6 per 1,000 people.

Without fully knowing individuals’ lifestyle habits and behaviors, a study like this can only show a correlation between working long hours and a higher risk of atrial fibrillation. The researchers suggest that lifestyle issues may play a role in the link between long working hours and atrial fibrillation because there is a higher risk of a person engaging in unsafe heart habits while working longer hours such as eating poorly, lack of exercise, an increase in a sedentary life, and possibly even smoking.

Even if you can’t control the number of hours you work, ensure you are taking the right steps to protect your heart by engaging in heart-healthy habits through healthy eating, exercise, not smoking, and reducing stress. This can help you reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation and other heart-related problems in the future.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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