The increasing emphasis on a good work-life balance — with countries like Denmark offering shorter working hours to its citizens — is not only for making people happier and more content with their lives. It also helps them maintain good health as researchers in the US have found that those who work long hours — 10 hours for a minimum of 50 days per year, for at least 10 years or more — are at an increased risk of stroke. This is based on a study published in the Stroke: Journal of American Heart Association, which reviewed data from a French-population based study group, started in 2012 for collecting information on age (18-69), sex, smoking and working hours, via a questionnaire and medical interviews.
Data from 143,592 participants was reviewed during the study and researchers found that 1,224 of the participants had suffered a stroke. 29 percent (42,542) worked long hours and had a 29 percent greater risk of stroke. 10 percent (14,481) said they had been working long hours for 10 or more years and had a 45 percent greater risk of stroke.
Alexis Descatha, the author of the study, said that the “association between 10 years of long work hours and stroke seemed stronger for people under the age of 50. This was unexpected. Further research is needed to explore this finding.”
"I would also emphasise that many healthcare providers work much more than the definition of long working hours and may also be at higher risk of stroke. As a clinician, I will advise my patients to work more efficiently and I plan to follow my own advice," he added.
The study noted cardiovascular risk factors and previous stroke occurrences through separate medical interviews. Those who had suffered strokes before working for long hours were excluded from this study along with part-time workers. Previous studies on the subject have recorded a lower impact of long work hours among top executives, entrepreneurs, managers, professionals and farmers. The current team of researchers said that this might be because these people have greater decision-making powers than other workers. Irregular and night shifts can also add strain to people’s lives and health, as has been noted by other studies.