Working Too Many Hours Could Increase Hypertension Risk

Working several days of long hours, consistently, is not very good for your health.  While that might seem obvious to most of us, a new study set out to establish exactly what health detriments we might expect from such a lifestyle.  Analyzing the blood pressure of 3,500 white-collar workers at three public institutions in Quebec, over a five-year span, researchers now warn that working more than 49 hours per week could raise blood pressure risk by as much as 70 percent.

Now, it is important to look more closely at the study, as there are a few layers to this data. Specifically, the greatest risk has been associated with something called  masked hypertension,  which is high blood pressure that is often missed during a routine medical appointment but detected when specifically tracking blood pressure, even at home.  

On the other hand, the study also found that working too many long days is also associated with a  66 percent higher risk of  sustained hypertension.   This type of hypertension is the one that would be observed in both a healthcare setting and at home.

Lead study author Xavier Trudel, PhD, explains,  The observed associations accounted for job strain, a work stressor defined as a combination of high work demands and low decision-making authority. However, other related stressors might have an impact. Future research could examine whether family responsibilities such as a worker’s number of children, household duties and childcare role might interact with work circumstances to explain high blood pressure. 

Now, it is important to note the study did not necessarily prove a causal relationship; so there is no way to tell, at least for now, just how much extra work causes a certain amount of damage. Still, the study warns that working between 41 and 48 hours a week could put you at a 54 percent higher risk of masked hypertension and at least 42 percent higher risk for sustained hypertension.  

Despite the things we still don’t know, the assistant professor of Laval University assistant professor of social and preventive medicine concludes,  People should be aware that long work hours affect their heart health, and if they’re working long hours, they should as their doctors about checking their blood pressure over time with a wearable monitor. 

The results of this study have been published in the journal Hypertension.

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