Take a break: Working long hours linked to increased stroke risk

PARIS — Despite billionaire CEOs like Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma preaching that 10-12 hour work days should be the norm for their employees, a recent study conducted in Paris finds that working long hours may lead to an increased chance of stroke. This is especially true if someone works long days regularly for 10 or more years.

Interestingly, the study also found that people under the age of 50 who had already worked long hours for at least a decade were at an even higher risk of suffering a stroke.

Long work hours were defined as working a minimum of 10 hours daily for at least 50 days per year.

To come to their conclusions, researchers analyzed data collected as part of a French population-based study in 2012. A total 143,592 individuals were surveyed, all between the ages of 18-69. Each person was asked about their work schedules, gender, and smoking habits. Medical histories were also referenced in regards to any cardiovascular risk factors or previous stroke episodes.

Of all surveyed participants, 42,542 (42%) reported working long hours, and 14,481 (10%) reported working long hours for 10 years or more. A total of 1,224 of the participants actually suffered a stroke.

After crunching the numbers, researchers say that those working long days had a 29% greater chance of suffering a stroke, while those who worked long hours for over 10 years had a 45% greater chance of a stroke.

“The association between 10 years of long work hours and stroke seemed stronger for people under the age of 50,” says study author Dr. Alexis Descatha, a researcher at Paris Hospital, Versailles and Angers University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, in a statement. “This was unexpected. Further research is needed to explore this finding.”

Descatha also mentioned that many healthcare providers typically work very long hours, often well beyond 10-12 hours. With this in mind, Descatha believes many medical professionals are likely at a high risk of suffering a stroke.

Prior studies have indicated that long work days have less adverse health effects on individuals in more managerial positions such as CEOs or executives, but researchers speculate this is because people in authoritative roles typically have the ability to set their own hours and work at their own pace.

The study is published in the scientific journal Stroke.