Long days in the office substantially increase the risk of heart problems

7th April 2011

Working more than 11 hours a day can increase the risk of heart disease by up to 67 per cent, research has discovered.

Although people who put in the hours in the office may be earning more than their eight-hour-a-day counterparts, they may also be putting themselves at severe risk of heart problems, the University College London study showed.

Researchers spent 15-years tracking 10,000 British civil servants, the vast majority of whom had no history of heart conditions. They then completed 11 years of follow up to test the effects of the subjects' schedule.

Following the study, lead researcher Mika Kivimaki and her team found that by adding the number of hours an individual worked each week to other risk factors, including weight, blood pressure and diabetes, it was easier for doctors to predict heart problems.

Kivimaki said: "Considering that including a measurement of working hours in a GP interview is so simple and useful, our research presents a strong case that it should become standard practice."

The legal maximum number of hours which employers can request from staff in a week is 48.


Posted by Jeanette Royston


1. Mika Kivimäki, PhD. "Using Additional Information on Working Hours to Predict Coronary Heart Disease - A Cohort Study". Annals of Internal Medicine April 4, 2011


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A Spire physician comments

Comment from Dr T W Koh, consultant cardiologist at Spire Hartswood Hospital in Brentwood, Essex:

"It is well established that lifestyle changes will reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack. If most of the day is spent in the office, there will be little or no opportunity to exercise. For example, people who exercise have half the risk of dying from a heart attack compared to non-active subjects. Exercise has beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, helps to prevent blood clotting and keeps weight under control. It reduces stress and keeps the risk of diabetes at bay. The British Heart Foundation recommends moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day for 5 or more days a week. A good work-life balance is essential to keep a healthy heart with particular attention to exercise, diet, body weight and avoidance of smoking.

"However, certain cardiovascular risks (high blood pressure and high cholesterol) cannot be fully modified or reversed by lifestyle alone. The Joint British Societies’ (JBS2) guidelines recommend that anyone over the age of 40 years old should have cardiovascular risk assessment. The British Heart Foundation (www.bhf.org.uk) is a reliable source of patient information on heart disease treatment and prevention."



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