Dr. Campbell: Working long hours may increase your risk for heart problems

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Last week a study published in the European Heart Journal found that working long hours may increase your risk for a heart rhythm problem called Atrial Fibrillation or AFib.

1. What is AFib?

AF is the most common heart rhythm problem in the world. Millions of Americans suffer from AF. Atrial Fibrillation occurs when the top chambers of the heart beat irregularly and rapidly. Atrial Fibrillation can put you at risk for serious complications such as stroke.

2. What did the study show?

Previous studies have shown that working long hours is associated with increased risk for heart disease. In this study, researchers studied 85,494 men and women from Europe with no record of previous atrial fibrillation. They assessed working hours at the start, and then followed them for an average of 10 years.

They found that the more hours worked, the greater their risk for AF. Compared with people who worked 35 to 40 hours a week, those who worked more than 55 hours had a 40 percent increased risk of atrial fibrillation.

3. What is the take home message from this study?

The study is not without limitations — it did not take into account the type of work, any exposures, and other variables.

There are many other factors that put you at risk for AF as well, such as obesity, high blood pressure, previous heart disease, diabetes, advanced age and alcohol use (just to name a few). Like everything else, you can reduce your risk through diet and exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight.

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter.

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