Purpose of review: To summarize the evidence on the relationship between long working hours and cardiovascular disease, such as coronary heart disease and stroke.
Recent findings: Large-scale meta-analyses with published and individual participant observational data on more than 740,000 men and women free of cardiovascular disease report a link between long working hours (≥ 55 h a week) and the onset of cardiovascular events. Our meta-analytic update of summary evidence suggests a 1.12-fold (95% CI 1.03-1.21) increased risk associated with coronary heart disease and a 1.21-fold (95% CI 1.01-1.45) increased risk of stroke, although the evidence is somewhat inconsistent and the possibility of residual confounding and bias cannot be ruled out. Few studies have examined the mechanisms which may be stress-related, behavioral, or biological. The recent pooled analyses suggest that increased cardiac electric instability and hypercoagulability might play a role. The evidence that long working hours are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease is accumulating and suggests a small risk. Studies on the effects of long working hours in high-risk populations and those with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, mechanistic research, and intervention studies are needed to advance this research field.
Keywords: Cardiovascular; Ischemic heart disease; Meta-analysis; Review; Stroke; Working hours.