Tell the boss: working long hours leads to heart attacks

Everyday Tom Millen wakes up early to get the office before everyone else.  The rookie attorney is trying to impress the boss, and work his way up the ranks by showing he is willing to put in the hours.  In his first year on the job, Millen says he works 12 hour days, and sometimes goes in on the weekends too.

“I know this profession is a tough one,” he said.  “I fully expected to devote the better part of my life to it, at least at the beginning.”

Millen says working long hours just comes with the territory, but a new study shows Millen’s non-stop schedule could lead to a big health problem.  We’re not talking about exhaustion; we’re talking about a heart attack.

A team from University College London found working an 11 hour day increases your chance of a heart attack by 66%, compared to those with a regular nine to five job.  Researchers tracked the working habits of 6,000 civil servants over the course of 11 years.  In all, 369 people died from heart disease.

Those workaholics had a higher stress level, were less likely to eat right, and consumed more alcohol.  All of these issues can increase the chances of heart problems.

Researchers believe there is a threshold.  The study showed working a little overtime here or there didn’t increase health problems, but hitting eleven hours in one day did.

Researchers hope the study encourages doctors to ask their patients about their daily work routine.  They believe doctors should know this information to be on the lookout for any heart problems that may come up.

Millen says the study is a little disturbing, but it is not going to change the way he works.

“If I want to be successful, I have to out work others in this profession,” he said.  “It might be dangerous to my health, but I’m willing to roll the dice.”

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