Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk in 2021
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Heart disease refers to a number of conditions where the supply of blood to the heart becomes blocked or disrupted, which can be fatal. According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), heart and circulatory diseases cause a quarter of all deaths in the UK, with more than 160,000 deaths each year. This is an average of 460 deaths each day or one every three minutes.
The BHF cites common causes of heart disease as: smoking, alcohol, being overweight and having high cholesterol.
It also says stress can play a major factor.
But speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Angela Rai – a GP at The London General Practice – explained more about the link between working hours and our hearts.
She said: “Heart irregularities can be affected by working long hours.
“Studies have shown that working long hours increases our risk of having abnormal heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation and therefore a stroke.
“The risk is 1.4 times higher if 55 hours or more a week compared to those who work 35 to 40 hours.
“Long hours lead to an abnormality of the autonomic nervous system which controls involuntary actions of the being.”
More specifically she said the risk of heart disease goes up 13 percent and the risk of stroke goes up 33 percent, if working long hours.
The study referenced by Dr Rai analysed the health of 85,494 working men and women, with an average age of 43 years, who had no recorded atrial fibrillation – an irregular or fast heart rate.
Their working hours were also assessed and then 10 years later their health was examined again.
The research, which was published in the European Health Journal in 2017, concluded: “Individuals who worked long hours were more likely to develop atrial fibrillation than those working standard hours.”
It explained: “Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and contributes to the development of several adverse health outcomes, such as stroke, heart failure, and multi-infarct dementia.
“Cardiovascular and respiratory disease, hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy are risk factors for atrial fibrillation.”
The study added: “We showed that employees working long hours were 40 percent more likely to develop this cardiac arrhythmia than those working standard hours.
“As this association appeared to be independent of known risk factors for atrial fibrillation, further research is needed to determine mechanisms underlying the link between long working hours and atrial fibrillation.”
Study participants were from the UK, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.
Common symptoms of heart disease include:
- Chest pain
- Pain, weakness or numb legs and/or arms
- Very fast or slow heartbeat, or palpitations
- Feeling dizzy, lightheaded or faint
- Swollen limbs.
Having high blood pressure and diabetes can also increase your risk of heart disease.
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