Study findings … Longer hours can raise the risk of heart problems.
People who work three hours or more of overtime per day run a 60 per cent higher risk of heart problems compared to those who work regular hours, a study published in the European Heart Journal said.
// After accounting for risk factors such as smoking, excessive weight and high cholesterol, doctors found that working between three and four hours of overtime each day was associated with a 60 per cent greater risk compared to those who did no overtime.
Those who worked overtime tended to be slightly younger than the non-overtime group, were more likely to be male than female, and were in a higher occupational grade.
The investigators say the link between cardiac problems and overtime seems clear but the cause is less so, given the complexities of heart disease and relationships in the workplace.
For instance, working overtime could affect metabolism or mask depression, anxiety and sleeplessness, they cautioned.
There is also a phenomenon called “sickness presenteeism”, whereby employees who work overtime were more likely to work while ill, ignore symptoms and not seek medical health.
In addition, people who liked their job and had greater latitude in work decisions tended to work longer hours just for the pleasure, and may have a lower rate of CHD.
“More research is needed before we can be confident that overtime work would cause CHD,” said Marianna Virtanen, an epidemiologist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London.