Shift work may lead to heart problems

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Shift workers, especially those working overnight, are at a higher risk for a stroke or heart attack, an analysis finds.

For the purpose of this report, shift work was defined as evening shifts, irregular or unspecified shifts, mixed schedules, night shifts and rotating shifts. A team of Norwegian and Canadian scientists analyzed 34 previous studies involving more than two million participants.

They found that night-shift workers had a 41% increased risk for coronary events. Participants who worked on other shifts had a 23% increased risk for heart attack, a 24% higher risk for coronary events and a 5% higher risk for stroke.
Researcher Daniel Hackam, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Western Ontario, encouraged employers to help workers take preventative action to maintain their health.

“If you are a shift worker, know your cardiovascular risk factors cold. Go see your family doctor and get an annual physical. And ask for measurement of your blood pressure, waist circumference, cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting blood sugar,” Hackam told WebMD.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal on July 26.