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A new research suggests that shift workers are slightly more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke than day workers.

An analysis of studies involving more than 2 million 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 analyzed 34 studies.

A new research suggests that shift workers are slightly more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke than day workers

A new research suggests that shift workers are slightly more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke than day workers

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”.

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

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 our for, which might indicate early heart problems.

Jane White, research and information services manager at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, said there are 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.”

 

Researchers say men will soon live longer than women for the first time since records began after abandoning their unhealthy, macho lifestyles.

Once boys born in 2000 reach the age of 30, they can expect to match girls of the same age by living to 87.1.

Researchers predict younger males will then go on to surpass the life spans of their female counterparts.

In 1970, a man aged 30 was expected to die 5.7 years before a woman of the same age – the widest gap since records began in 1841.

The common view has been that men are condemned to earlier graves by underlying genetic factors – despite growing life expectancies for both sexes.

Researchers say men will soon live longer than women for the first time since records began after abandoning their unhealthy, macho lifestyles

Researchers say men will soon live longer than women for the first time since records began after abandoning their unhealthy, macho lifestyles

Leslie Mayhew, professor of statistics at Cass Business School at London’s City University – which advises the Office of National Statistics (ONS) on population projections – points to lifestyle changes to explain his controversial forecast.

Prof. Leslie Mayhew told The Sunday Times: “There has been a huge decline in the numbers working in heavy industry; far fewer males smoke than before, and there is much better treatment for heart disease, which tends to affect males more than females.”

Lung cancer rates have also halved among men since 1975, while nearly doubling among women.

Leslie Mayhew’s predictions – which exclude Scotland, where men are expected to continue to trail women because of lifestyle factors – are due to be published next month.

But the forecast does not match that of the ONS, which predicts a boy born in the millennium year who reaches 30 can expect to die 3.5 years before a girl of the same age.

Prof. Leslie Mayhew argues the ONS has been consistently too cautious in acknowledging the shifts in life expectancy over the past few decades.

The longer longevity for men only kicks in at 30, with life expectancy remaining much better for baby girls and mortality rates higher among men between their reckless years of 16 and 30.

The research also highlights discrepancies between men and women in other countries, such as Russia, where there is a 12 year gap, and India, where it is just 12 months or less.

The report also predicts that the gap will close in Sweden in 2024 – six years ahead of Britain – but not until 2046 in France.