In the midst of the largest remote work movement ever recorded, research is beginning to build a case against labor standards of the recent past.
Work life balance has been an area of concern among insiders for the greater half of a decade—and for good cause.
According to a new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, those who regularly commit to long hours at work increase their risk for the vascular event by nearly 30%.
“Our study investigated the association between long work hours and stroke in a large general population study,” the authors wrote in their new paper. “This large analysis reveals a significant association between stroke and exposure to long work hours for 10 years or more. The findings are relevant for individual and global prevention.”
Association Between Reported Long Working Hours and History of Stroke
“The association between 10 years of long work hours and stroke seemed stronger for people under the age of 50,” said Alexis Descatha, a researcher at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and co-author of the study. “This was unexpected.”
To support their hypothesis, the researchers analyzed data from a French population-based cohort comprised of 143 592 participants between the ages of 18 and 69 years-old for an entire decade.
In the context of the study, long work hours (LWH) were defined as durations that surpassed 10 hours a day for at least 50 days per year.
Exceeding this length consistently increased one’s risk of stroke by 29%. Doing so for more than ten years increased a person’s risk of stroke by 45%.
“Stroke is a devastating though largely preventable health condition. Long working hours (LWH) may be a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and stroke. In Japan, 60% of compensated Karoshi (death from overwork) cases died of a stroke. A meta-analysis observed a dose-response relationship between LWH and stroke but did not adjust for other modifiable risk factors of stroke. A Danish study found an association with LWH only for hemorrhagic stroke.”
One of the studies from 2016 cited in the new paper determined that working 55 hours (or more) per week yielded a robust relationship with increased heart disease risk.
In addition to limiting long hours where you can, the researchers suggest adhering to the standard nine to five work week as a base rule and eating a healthy, balanced diet as often as possible.
Be sure to check out our detailed guide on the diets studied to reduce adverse cardiovascular incidents.
“Owners, executives, managers, professionals, and farmers generally have greater decision latitude than other workers, perhaps accounting for the smaller effects in these groups,” the authors concluded. “An association between LWH and stroke was found with modest increases in the adjusted odds ratio for LWH exposures of 10 years or more. Results are consistent with studies elsewhere: a meta-analysis, where the meta-risk was 1.31 for work of >55 hours per week and two Korean case-control studies on all types of stroke and hemorrhagic stroke only. Our results support the temporal sequence and a dose-response relationship with exposure duration.”