Long office hours could kill you

It’s often said that ‘hard work won’t kill you’ but scientists believe that working an 11-hour day could increase your risk of a heart attack by up to 66 per cent

We’re often told not to be afraid of a bit of hard work, but public health experts at University College London have found that working too many hours could bring on a heart attack.

Stress is thought to be the main culprit, meaning those with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol are more likely to suffer from heart problems, according to the study of more than 7,000 Whitehall civil servants.

Professor Mika Kivimaki, who led the study, says: ‘We have shown that working long days is associated with a remarkable increase in risk of heart disease.’

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The research suggests those who work 11 hours or more a day are 67 per cent more likely to have a heart attack than those who work a standard seven or eight-hour day.

‘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,’ says Prof Kivimaki. ‘This new information should help improve decisions regarding medication for heart disease.’

As well as taking into account a person’s BMI, age, blood pressure, cholesterol and whether they have diabetes when assessing heart disease risk, the study provides a wake up call for those who overwork themselves.

But Prof Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundations, says: ‘These most recent findings raise the possibility that long hours may increase the risk of a heart attack, but further studies are required to confirm the association.’

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