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Overtime Boosts Heart Attack Risk
Date:5/11/2010

Work stress may take a toll on your heart, researchers say,,

TUESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- People who put in long hours at work increase their risk of dying from heart disease and heart attack, Finnish researchers report.

In fact, people who work three or more hours of overtime a day have a 60 percent increased risk of heart-related problems such as dying from heart disease, having a heart attack or angina, the researchers noted.

"Be aware of potential risks in excessive overtime work," said study author Marianna Virtanen, an epidemiologist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki.

"We do not yet know how long exposure is needed before cardiovascular health is affected," she added. "Short periods of overtime work are not necessarily dangerous to health."

The report is published in the May 12 online edition of the European Heart Journal.

For the study, Virtanen's team collected data on more than 6,000 British civil servants. Over 11 years of follow-up, 369 of these people died from heart disease or had heart attacks or angina.

When the researchers took into account factors such as age, sex, marital status and occupational level, they found those who worked three to four hours of overtime each day, but not one to two hours, increased their risk for heart disease by 60 percent.

When Virtanen's group looked at 21 other risk factors, there was little difference in the findings.

"Working overtime may be a risk for some individuals in terms of cardiovascular health," Virtanen said.

"Mechanisms that relate to this risk may be unhealthy lifestyle, stress, depression and lack of sleep," she said. "People who work long hours may also be those who ignore their early symptoms and are less likely to go to physical health check-ups."

While it isn't clear why working overtime increases the risk for heart disease, Virtanen's team
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