Long Work Hours Raise Heart Disease Risk

Pharmacists should avoid working more than 55 hours a week if possible, because doing so may increase their risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.

Pharmacists should avoid working more than 55 hours a week if possible, because doing so may increase their risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.

In the Pharmacy Workforce Center’s latest career survey, pharmacists reported working an average of 44.2 hours per week in 2014, though this figure has increased in the last few years. In 2004, pharmacists were working around 43.4 hours a week, and in 2009, they reported working an average of 43.8 hours a week.

Now, new research suggests that employees working 55 or more hours a week have 33% greater odds of stroke and a 13% increased risk of developing CHD compared with those working between 35 and 40 hours a week.

Researchers examined 25 studies that took place in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Meta-analysis of CHD studies provided data on 603,838 men and women without disease at baseline, and meta-analysis of stroke studies provided data on 528,908 men and women free from stroke at baseline.

In follow-up, there were 4768 coronary heart disease events and 1722 stroke events.

After adjusting for age, gender, and socioeconomic status, working longer hours was linked to a greater risk for both disease events, though the risk for heart disease was smaller than the risk for stroke.

“These findings suggest that more attention should be paid to the management of vascular risk factors in individuals who work long hours,” the researchers concluded.

The researchers also surmised that other players such as physical inactivity, stress, and alcohol consumption could be increasing stroke risk for employees who work long hours.