Night time workers at highest risk for heart diseaseJust released by the British Medical Journal is an article that correlates working odd hours with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. They call it “shift work”, that is those people that work nights and need to sleep days. The conclusions were based on correlating the results of 34 different studies on more than 2 million individuals to frequency of heart attacks and strokes.

In order to minimize bias of the results, the differences in study design and quality were taken into account. This was undertaken to understand who is at most risk of health problems and to address it directly, such as modifying the shift patterns on overall health

Night shifts were associated with the steepest increase in coronary events (41%) but was not associated with an increase in death rates.

Working odd hours increases risk of heart attacks and strokes

These events were more common among shift workers than other people: shift work was associated with an increased risk of heart attack (23%), coronary events (24%) and stroke (5%). These risks remained consistent even after adjusting for factors such as study quality, socioeconomic status and unhealthy behaviours in shift workers.

Original source at the BMJ

To me it suggests that quantity and quality of sleep would affect certain people, especially those that don’t find sleeping during the day restful or are able to rejuvenate from it. One of the real problems is the affect sunlight and darkness has on our hormones. For example, melatonin which promotes sleep and sleepiness is excreted with darkness.

It also suggests that stress plays a large role in heart health and at risk people. In my book, Get Rid of Bad Cholesterol, I cover chapters on reducing stress and increasing quality of sleep and how effective they are at promoting heart health.

Clearly, working odd hours increases risk of heart attacks and strokes. Monitoring of health parameters is especially critical for these groups to allow for early detection and mitigation of problems.

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