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Saturday 24th August 2019

Increased risk of heart problems linked to shift work

27th July 2012

Evidence published in the British Medical Journal has suggested that shift workers are slightly more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke than those who work normal office hours during the day.


The findings come after analysis of the work patterns of more than two million workers.

Researchers from Canada and Norway, who analysed 34 studies, say that shift work can disrupt the body clock and have a negative impact on the lifestyle of individuals.

Jane White, research and information services manager at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, said shift work can lead to disturbed appetite and digestion, reliance on sedatives or stimulants and lead to social and domestic problems and that shift patterns needed to be well managed otherwise there could be an increase in errors or accidents at work.

She added: “Avoiding permanent night shifts, limiting shifts to a maximum of 12 hours and ensuring workers have a minimum of two full nights’ sleep between day and night shifts are simple, practical solutions that can help people to cope with shift work.”

From the studies analysed by the research team there were 17,359 coronary events of some kind, including cardiac arrests, 6,598 heart attacks and 1,854 strokes caused by lack of blood to the brain and they were more common in shift workers than in other people.

The study calculated that shift work was linked to a 23% increased risk of heart attack, 24% increased risk of coronary event and 5% increased risk of stroke.


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