Putting in long hours at work may be viewed as a sign of commitment to the job, but according to new research conducted by scientists in the United Kingdom, this could also increase a person's likelihood to suffer a stroke.

In a study of over half a million people in the UK, researchers at the University College London (UCL) discovered that individuals who typically work past the regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule experience a higher susceptibility to stroke.

While the connection between long hours of work and an increase in stroke risk is yet to be fully explored, health experts believe it could be caused by work-related stress or an unhealthy lifestyle.

They recommend that people who go beyond the regular working hours should closely monitor their blood pressure.

The UCL study, which is featured in the medical journal The Lancet, compared the impact of working 35 to 40 hours a week with working for 48 hours and beyond a week.

Research showed that people who work for up to 48 hours experience a 10 percent increase in their stroke risk, while those who reach up to 54 hours of working time had a 27 percent increase. People who work for more than 55 hours experience a 33 percent increase in their susceptibility to stroke.

UCL researcher Dr. Mika Kivimaki said that among the people who worked within the 35- to 40-hour average working time, fewer than five stroke cases were observed for every 1,000 workers per decade.

The number increased to six for every 1,000 workers per decade when the working time reached 55 hours and beyond.

Kivimaki, however, pointed out that researchers are still at the beginning stages when it comes to understanding this occurrence.

Some of the ideas they have encountered that could possibly play a role in this increase in stroke risk include the additional stress of having to work for long hours and having to sit down for long periods, which has been shown to have a negative impact on a person's health.

The researchers also noted that the findings could be an indication of the poor health of people who mostly stay in the office and do not have enough time to exercise or at least prepare healthier meals.

"People need to be extra careful that they still maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure their blood pressure does not increase," Kivimaki said.

Photo: Shane Adams | Flickr 

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