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Logging Long Hours on the Job May Increase Risk for Heart Attack, Angina, Heart-Related Death, Study Finds


May 13, 2010 — Working a lot of overtime may be good for your wallet, but it may be bad for your heart.

In a study of about 6,000 British civil servants followed for about a decade, working three or more hours of overtime a day was associated with a 60% increased risk of heart-related health issues, including heart attack, angina, and death from heart disease.

The association was seen even after researchers considered the impact of well-established heart disease risk factors like smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol.

Lead researcher Marianna Virtanen, PhD, tells WebMD that for the white collar civil servants in the study, working overtime was associated with more type A behavior traits like aggression, hostility, competitiveness, psychological distress, and sleep problems.

The research appears online in the European Heart Journal.

“The importance of having a good balance between work time, leisure time, and family time may be more important for the heart than has been appreciated,” she says.

Virtanen is a senior researcher and psychologist with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the University College London.