Shift work link to 'increased risk of heart problems'

 
shift workers Working night shifts can disrupt the body's clock and lead to health problems

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Shift workers are slightly more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke than day workers, research suggests.

An analysis of studies involving more than 2m workers in the British Medical Journal said shift work can disrupt the body clock and have an adverse effect on lifestyle.

It has previously been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.

Limiting night shifts would help workers cope, experts said.

The team of researchers from Canada and Norway analysed 34 studies.

In total, there were 17,359 coronary events of some kind, including cardiac arrests, 6,598 heart attacks and 1,854 strokes caused by lack of blood to the brain.

These events were more common in shift workers than in other people.

The BMJ study calculated that shift work was linked to a 23% increased risk of heart attack, 24% increased risk of coronary event and 5% increased risk of stroke.

But they also said shift work was not linked to increased mortality rates from heart problems and that the relative risks associated with heart problems were "modest".

Start Quote

Ensuring workers have a minimum of two full nights sleep between day and night shifts can help people to cope with shift work.”

End Quote Jane White Institution of Occupational Safety and Health

The researchers took the socioeconomics status of the workers, their diet and general health into account in their findings.

No rest

Dan Hackam, associate professor at Western University, London, Ontario in Canada, said shift workers were more prone to sleeping and eating badly.

"Night shift workers are up all the time and they don't have a defined rest period. They are in a state of perpetual nervous system activation which is bad for things like obesity and cholesterol," he said.

The authors say that screening programmes could help identify and treat risk factors for shift workers, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

They add that shift workers could also be educated about what symptoms to look out for, which might indicate early heart problems.

Jane White, research and information services manager at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, said there were complex issues surrounding shift work.

"It can result in disturbed appetite and digestion, reliance on sedatives and/or stimulants, as well as social and domestic problems.

"These can affect performance, increase the likelihood of errors and accidents at work, and even have a negative effect on health.

She said the effects of shift work needed to be well managed.

"Avoiding permanent night shifts, limiting shifts to a maximum of 12 hours and ensuring workers have a minimum of two full nights' sleep between day and night shifts are simple, practical solutions that can help people to cope with shift work."

Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the increased risk to an individual shift worker "was relatively small".

"But many Brits don't work nine to five and so these findings becomes much more significant.

"Whether you work nights, evenings or regular office hours, eating healthily, getting active and quitting smoking can make a big difference to your heart health."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 152.

    "127.FedUp With PC
    Perhaps we could make our friends the bankers work nights to reduce their numbers"

    Great idea!

    But can you imagine the bonuses they'd demand (and with our government get) for working unsociable hours?

    Can anyone actually count that high???

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 151.

    "127.FedUp With PC
    Perhaps we could make our friends the bankers work nights to reduce their numbers"

    I think this is a brilliant idea and needs to be acted upon now!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 150.

    My husband has worked permanent night shifts at a supermarket for 4 years. He was diagnosied with Ulcerative Colitis last year. Whilst there is no proof that nights caused the permanent illness, the consultant feels it would not have probably helped it! He has now (thankfully) been signed off night work by the consultant.He would often struggle to get more than 5 hours of quality sleep.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 149.

    and I totally agree with BluesBerry that we are all different - the 5 days really mucks me up but I love the 5 nights as I sleep so much better in the day - I must have been a vampire in a prev life : )
    I disagree with Davies that women get more mucked up as I cope with shifts better than quite a few of the blokes - we are all different and its nothing to do with our sex

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 148.

    I work 5 days 2 nights 5 off, then 2 days 5 nights 9 off. Though I spend a lot of time at work when I am there I get more chance to wind down & totally forget about work than someone who only gets 2/7 off. I also miss most of the stress from being stuck in traffic jams so for me I think I have a lot less stress in my life than I would if I worked normal!!! days and probably less chance of a H/A

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 147.

    "140. Rosetta
    138.RobinTheBoyWonder
    ...your statements lead the reader to believe that you believe..."

    I think you may be reading things a little subjectively here - I try to post observations rather than opinions.

    For example, I observed that increased automation requires less workers (you opened that subject in #47), and you inferred that I look down on anyone who doesn't work full time. Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 146.

    I work 12 hr shifts and suspect the reason we are more at risk is the amount of takeaways and crap some people on shift eat (me included)

    And as for the comment about it being for young people - most of the shifties are not young (I am in my 40's and proud of it) as young people seem to suffer more than us oldies with shifts. Its more about your frame of mind and lifestyle than your age.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 145.

    Its the best news Muppets May & Co have had in long time, all those troublesome gold plated pension grabbing police officers and irksome public sector pensioners stealing their petty cash destined for greater things.

    The Lesser -spotted taxpayer is a dying breed anyhow.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 144.

    I worked for 7 years doing 24 hour shift coverage on the airport. Yes, I totally agree that it is a young persons game and also women get more messed up on it maybe because of a more complex body clock. Also employers tend to run positions short on staff and rely on willingness to do overtime. Sometimes I was doing 70 hours a week. Gave up due to deteriorating overall health and no personal life.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 143.

    I reckon the Headline is not spelt correctly. Take the f out of shift and I reckon it would read much better, after all shift work never is the most glamorous work. I applaud the people who can actually take the stress of it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 142.

    Shift work is alright for young fit people but is not really suitable for anyone over the age of 30 as a permanent lifestyle. One benefit of it can be that if the shifts are long then the number of days away from work can be higher than 2/7. If you work 12 hour shifts it can be 4/8 which is brilliant.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 141.

    139. who2believe
    wonder how anyone survives let alone is able to think.

    That is the other problem, I wouldn't like to fly on a plane tested by night shift workers!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 140.

    138.RobinTheBoyWonder
    'I also made no reference to “Immigration”, “Foreigners” or “benefits” as your post claims.'
    -You are right, apologies.-

    Still, your statements lead the reader to believe that you believe the status quo will not change and are unwilling to find a way the world could now be prioritise the health and wellbeing of its populous. (Going back to my first statement).

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 139.

    This article seems to suggest that rotating shifts are preferable - is that right? When doing shifts I did changes every couple of weeks and my body seemed to take 4 or 5 days to adjust to one pattern then it had to adjust to another. Add to that no proper food usually being available, only you eat salty microwave or take out, and you wonder how anyone survives let alone is able to think.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 138.

    "133. Rosetta
    Re#122
    ‘You quite clearly know nothing whatsoever about me or my opinions, but don't let that get in the way of a good prejudiced rant, eh?’
    -
    Are you not guilty of the same?"

    No - I have at no point stated YOUR opinion as you have with me.

    I also made no reference to “Immigration”, “Foreigners” or “benefits” as your post claims.

    Engage your eyes and try reading!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 137.

    Given that the researchers have neutralist the statistical effect of socio-economic status etc, this result is pretty emphatic.

    Some shift work is necessary, especially emergency, critical transport, communication and energy services. I would love to see a world economy where it is not necessary to manufacture and retail stuff 24/7.

    Meanwhile night shifts should not rise above a 'safe' level.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 136.

    It would seem to me that people have different circadian rhythms - some day persons, some night persons.
    The key may be to identify the nighthawks for night shifts. I've known several people who have worked night shifts for a long time & enjoy it immensely. However, you can't make a nighthawk into a day person or vice versa.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 135.

    @51.barryp

    The fat cat friendly Coalition, backed by public support, is anti H&S. HSE survived the burning of the quangos by the skin of its teeth, many say it should have gone. Employers don't want 'bureaucratic' H&S legislation to protect workers lest it restricts their ability to make money.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 134.

    I would make statistics mandatory in education.
    On this site people really struggle to understand them.
    A 24% increased risk of coronary event is not the same as a 24% risk of coronary event and it definitely does not mean that working nights adds significant risk.
    As the last paragraph shows the biggest risk is still your life style with smoking being the biggest risk factor.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 133.

    Re#122
    ‘You quite clearly know nothing whatsoever about me or my opinions, but don't let that get in the way of a good prejudiced rant, eh?’
    -
    Are you not guilty of the same?

    And as an added note:- //nemesis, bloke & robin
    In what perverted universe that you live in did I say “Immigration”, “Foreigners” or “benefits”?

    Engage No.1 Brain and stop acting like No.2 Brain.

 

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