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Overtime link to heart disease

Those who regularly work longer hours are at an increased risk of heart disease and death, researchers have warned.

People who work 10- or 11-hour days may be up to 60% more likely to suffer the disease, according to a study of more than 6,000 people. It found longer hours left people stressed and without time to unwind.

British civil servants of both genders aged between 39 and 61 took part in the study, which is published online in the European Heart Journal. Their risk of suffering a heart attack or angina, or developing heart disease which led to them dying, was assessed over the course of an average of 11 years.

Overtime was linked to a 56% to 60% increased risk of heart disease or dying, compared with those who did not do overtime, even when factors such as age and whether people smoked or were overweight were taken into account, the researchers found. The increased risk was linked to working between three and four hours extra a day on top of a normal seven-hour day.

Marianna Virtanen, an epidemiologist at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki and University College London, led the study.

Cathy Ross, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the research, said: "This study raises further questions about how our working lives can influence our risk of heart disease.

"Until researchers understand how our working lives can affect the risk to our heart health, there are simple ways to look after your heart health at work, like taking a brisk walk at lunch, taking the stairs instead of the lift, or by swapping that biscuit for a piece of fruit."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

British Heart Foundation