Shiftwork and cardiovascular disease: review of disease mechanisms

Rev Environ Health. 2000 Oct-Dec;15(4):359-72. doi: 10.1515/reveh.2000.15.4.359.


This paper reviews the main findings concerning mechanisms explaining the increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in shiftworkers. We discuss a conceptual model, in which three main shiftwork pathways to CHD are postulated--social problems, behavioral change, and disturbed circadian rhythm. Social problems that are associated with shiftwork might lead to stress. Significant shiftwork-related behavioral problems are smoking and unhealthy food habits. Disturbed circadian rhythm might result in sleep deprivation. Unphysiologic timing of physical activity and food intake in relation to circadian rhythms is another possible explanation for the negative impact on the cardiovascular system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Chronobiology Disorders / complications*
  • Chronobiology Disorders / metabolism
  • Chronobiology Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Electrocardiography
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology