Shorter Work Weeks Lower Stroke Risk, Study Finds

Ever feel like the work week’s gonna kill you?

It turns out, according to a team of international researchers, employees who work the longest have an increased stroke risk when compared to workers who leave earlier.

Going even just a few hours over the US standard of 40 per week leads to a pretty significant uptick in stroke risk, per the study released in Lancet.

Here’s what employers and employees should know about the correlation between work hours and stroke risk.

Working Too Many Hours Increases Stroke Risk

The study was conducted using data from hundreds of thousands of employees in Australia, Israel, the US, and eight European countries that all participated in several long-term studies. Volunteers told study leaders how many hours were worked every week, and they were then tracked over many years.

528,908 people were stroke-free when initiating the study, but in the next 7 years, 1,722 suffered a stroke. It turns out that strokes were more prevalent among those that worked longer hours.

Individuals who worked 41-48 hours weekly were 10% more likely to have a stroke compared to those who worked 35-40 hours weekly. Employees who worked 49-54 hours were at the greatest risk, with 27% higher risk than the 35-40 hour group. Individuals who worked 55+ hours had a 33% increase in stroke risk.

Both male and female subjects and employees in all four regions studied had the same increase in stroke risk, with adjustments for age, gender, socioeconomic status, smoking history, alcohol consumption, and BMI made.

In addition, researchers looked at 603,838 employees with no history of heart disease over 8.5 years. In that time, just over 4,700 had a heart attack or another heart-related incident. When compared to individuals with a standard workweek, employees who clocked over 55 hours had a 13% likelihood of heart-related health issues.

How Longer Worker Hours & Health Risks are Linked

Researchers think the correlation between long work hours and health risks exists due to many factors. For instance, people who are desk-bound are often less physically active. Those who do exercise off-the-clock still feel the impact of a mostly sedentary day, including increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.

Individuals that work long hours also tend to drink more, contributing to their increase stroke risk factors. Spending more hours in the office can also trigger a natural stress response.

Keeping Your Workplace Well

Test Smartly Labs can be your workplace wellness partner. We are nationwide workplace wellness experts, and we can implement programs to help keep your employees well.

To get started, contact your nearest Test Smartly Labs today.

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