A new study from University College London has shown that working 55 hours or more a week leads to a 33% greater risk of stroke and a 13% increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to a standard 35 - 40 hour working week. Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation explains: “This research shows an association between long working hours and an increased risk of having a stroke and heart disease.”
While the link between long working hours and the risk of stroke seems clear, what’s less apparent is exactly what it is about long hours that is detrimental to workers' health. One suggestion is that long hours in an office creates an essentially sedentary lifestyle, which has long been thought a red flag for health issues. Another possibility is that long working days leave little time for healthier pursuits, such as exercise or preparing healthy meals. Or it could be that those who put in extra hours are suffering prolonged amounts of work-related stress.
Dr Knapton says, “More research is needed if we are to understand and treat the biological processes that can lead to increased risk of stroke and heart disease for people who work long hours.” In the meantime, we’ll be clocking off early.