Findings of a new study that looked at the data of over 600,000 individuals suggest that while working extra hours can bring financial rewards, it can up one's risks for stroke and coronary heart disease.

In a new study published in the journal The Lancet on Aug. 19, Mika Kivimaki, from University College London in England, and colleagues found that working 55 hours or more in one week was linked to 33 percent increased odds for stroke and 13 percent increased risks for coronary heart diseases as compared with working between 35 and 40 hours a week.

"Employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke than those working standard hours; the association with coronary heart disease is weaker. These findings suggest that more attention should be paid to the management of vascular risk factors in individuals who work long hours," the researchers wrote in their study.

The researchers said that longer working hours are associated with increased risks for stroke because long hours on the job may be linked to poorer health habits and increased sedentariness.

How to Prevent Stroke

The findings of the study may pose a dilemma for individuals who work for long hours, but experts recommend ways that could help prevent stroke, such as eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise as well as avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol drinking.

"Keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose in the normal range and not smoking, keeping a healthy body weight, and exercising have all been shown to lower stroke risk," Kivimaki said. "The message may be that these things are especially important for people who regularly work long hours."

Eating fruits appear to help in reducing odds for stroke. In a study published in the journal Stroke, women who consumed the most citrus were found to have the least odds to have clot-related strokes compared with their counterparts who consumed the least amount of citrus.

Researchers said that the compound found in citrus, known as flavanones, may improve blood vessel function and reduce inflammation.

While drinking alcohol in moderation may have beneficial effects on cholesterol and even help in preventing blood clots, studies have shown that drinking alcohol in high amounts can elevate blood pressure.

Engaging in physical activity also helps. A recent study provides evidence that people who exercise at least five times weekly face a lower risk for stroke.

Photo: John O'Nolan | Flickr 

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