July 30th, 2012
People who work irregular schedules or work outside of normal daytime hours are at higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and other coronary events, according to a new study published this week in the British Medical Journal.
This study is not the first to show a link between shift work and heart health, but it is the largest-ever analysis of its kind. It pools together results from 34 previous studies on the topic, with a combined 2 million study participants from across the industrialized world, estimating that shift workers are at 23% greater risk of heart attacks than the other workers, 5% greater risk of ischemic stroke, and 24% greater risk of all coronary events combined (a category that includes heart attack but not stroke). Shift workers also had slightly higher overall death rates than average, but those results were not statistically significant.