Study shows working overtime spikes your risk of developing an irregular heartbeat.
Don’t work your heart out.
Employees who clock in more than 55 hours a week are more likely to develop an irregular heartbeat over those working a standard 35- to 40-hour workweek, the European Heart Journal reports.
Researchers from the European Society of Cardiology studied nearly 85,500 men and women over 10 years. None of them had irregular heart rhythm, also known as atrial fibrillation or AFib, at the beginning of the study. But a decade later, there were 1,061 new cases of AFib, and those working more than 55 hours a week were 40% more likely to develop AFib than those working a normal workweek, even after adjusting for risk factors like age, gender, obesity, smoking and alcohol use.
“Nine out of 10 of the atrial fibrillation cases occurred in people who were free of pre-existing or concurrent cardiovascular disease,” wrote the study authors. “This suggests the increased risk is likely to reflect the effect of long working hours rather than the effect of any pre-existing or concurrent cardiovascular disease, but further research is needed to understand the mechanisms involved.”
The average American works 44 hours a week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although a 2014 Gallup poll put that average closer to 47 hours, with many survey respondents admitting to punching in for 50 hours.
The study authors admitted that they only recorded how many hours a week these men and women were working at the beginning of the study, versus over the course of the experiment or at the end. But the authors note that people tend to keep consistent working patterns.
The new report also supports previous research that has associated working overtime with an increased risk of stroke. This could come from developing AFib, which is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, and is known to contribute to strokes, heart failure and stroke-related dementia.
A March report from the Australian National University warned the tipping point comes as early as 39 hours a week, after which a person’s physical and mental health starts to “erode” because workers have “less time to eat well and look after themselves properly,” the lead researcher wrote in a statement.
And there’s plenty of other scientific reasons to convince your boss to cut back on your hours. The CDC has also linked working overtime with higher rates of illness, injury and death, not to mention more weight gain, alcohol use and higher smoking rates.
A 2016 study found that nurses putting in a six-hour work day took fewer sick days and were more productive than a control group of nurses covering an eight-hour shift. And Stanford University researchers found that worker output drops once they work more than 48 hours per week, so putting in that OT might be a huge waste of time as well as good health.
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