Health & Fitness | July 16, 2017 5:00 am

Working Long Hours Increases the Risk of Irregular Heart Rhythm

According to a new study released in the European Heart Journal.

Workaholics, take this to heart: too many hours on the job can be seriously harmful to the health of your heart.

A new study published in the European Heart Journal found that people who work long hours have an increased risk of developing an irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation.

Nearly 85,500 men and women participated in the study. The findings showed that, when compared to people who worked a normal week of 35-40 hours, those who worked 55 hours or more were approximately 40 percent more likely to develop the irregular heart rhythm in the following 10 years.

In the 10 year follow-up, for every 1,000 people in the study, an extra 5.2 cases of atrial fibrillation occurred in those people who worked long hours.

These findings could help explain the previously observed increased risk of stroke among people who work long hours because atrial fibrillation is known to contribute to the development of strokes. It also can contributes to other adverse health outcomes, such as heart failure or stroke-related dementia.

The research team analyzed data from men and women in eight studies across the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

“Those who worked long hours had a 1.4 times higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation, even after we had adjusted for factors that could affect the risk, such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, obesity, leisure time physical activity, smoking and risky alcohol use,” said Professor Mika Kivimaki of the Department of Epidemiology at University College London (UK), who led the research.

The study does have limitations. The working hours were only assessed at the beginning of the study, for one. Another is that the type of job was not recorded. Irregular working hours, such as night shifts, were not explored in the study.