For some time now, shift patterns and night shifts have been associated to high blood pressure and diabetes. A new study comes to show night shifts boost risk of heart attack and strokes.
A team of scientists from Norway and Canada investigated more than 2 million people working in shifts. They found shift patterns and night shifts in particular put these people at risk of heart attack and strokes. When linked with previous study, it becomes obvious night shifts aren’t as “harmless” as so many suggest.
In fact as their research published on the British Medical Journal website reads the risk of heart attack and strokes spikes up to 41percent for night shift workers. On the overall, workers that are on a shift schedule are 25 percent more likely to suffer a damaging heart attack and stroke.
The study looked at a variety of factors, including the workers’ socio-economic status, diet, overall health and habits. The study is blunt when it comes to explaining why night shifts boost risk of heart attack and strokes by 41 percent. The main reasons are unhealthy diet and not getting enough sleep at the right time.
“Night shift workers are up all the time and they don’t have a defined rest period” said Dan Hackam, study co-author and associate professor at Western University in Canada. “They are in a state of perpetual nervous system activation which is bad for things like obesity and cholesterol”, the associate professor added.
Shift work and night work in particular “can result in disturbed appetite and digestion, reliance on sedatives and, or stimulants, as well as social and domestic problems” explained Jane White with the British Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. It goes without saying, the troubles Jane White indicated are factors that impact performance at work and health on the overall.
To help limit the risk of cardiovascular damage for night shift workers, Jane White advocated for a better management of shift work effects. “Avoiding permanent night shifts, limiting shifts to a maximum of 12 hours and ensuring workers have a minimum of two full nights’ sleep between day and night shifts” are what Jane White reckons to be “simple, practical solutions that can help people to cope with shift work”.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showed 44 percent of night shift workers in the United States are sleep deprived.