According to the research, if you frequently work in excess of 11 hours a day then you have an increased of a heart attack. However, it seems that a 67 per cent rise in the risk of a heart attack isn’t the only problem brought on by being a workaholic.
In a recent feature, the Guardians Dr Luisa Dillner explored the hidden dangers long working hours, the highlights of which can be found below.
What are considered to be long hours?
48 hours a week is the commonly used definition of ‘long hours’ in many studies. However, this figure does not include long commutes and flexible working hours etc. It is thought that working long hours for a high salary as opposed to a low one may offset some damage to your health. In addition, men are more likely to work longer hours then women.
What are the associated heath risks?
As well as the study responsible for finding that working over 11 hours a day can increase heart attack risk (Annals of Internal Medicine), there is also evidence that long hours also carry additional significant risks.
For example, in Japan, much research has been carried out focussing on a syndrome known as ‘karoshi’. This syndrome occurs among Japanese men who work very long hours and suffer sudden death caused by strokes or heart attacks.
Though researchers are unsure as to whether this is related to existing factors such as high blood pressure, it is believed that overtime can increase blood pressure and cardiac symptoms and thus advise individuals against working longer than 11 hours.
Additional evidence has linked long hours with depression, though this risk tends to correlate with how much enjoyment employees get out of their jobs, how rewarding they find them and how much choice they feel they have about overtime.
Some surveys have also found increased incidence rates of headaches, muscle pain, back pain, irritable bowel syndrome and personal issues at home.
Is it unsafe to work long hours?
Research looking into long hours has shown that junior doctors make more clinical and sometimes fatal mistakes and had more road traffic accidents outside of work.
There were similar findings across the board, with lorry drivers and manual workers making more mistakes and generally performing to a lower standard.
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