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Working longer hours increases your risk of a stroke, study finds

Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire/PA Images
Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire/PA Images

Working 10 or more hours just once a week can increase your risk of a stroke, new research shows.

A French study of more than 143,000 adults, published this week in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, found people who work for 10 hours or more just once a week, for at least 50 days a year, are almost a third (29%) more likely to suffer a stroke.

And those who do so for 10 years or more are 45% more likely to have a stroke, the research suggests.

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Surprisingly, the study found the association between 10 years of long work hours and strokes seemed stronger for people under the age of 50.

“This was unexpected,” said Dr Alexis Descatha, who led the research. “Further research is needed to explore this finding.”

The study by Angers University and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research excluded part-time workers and those who had already suffered strokes before regularly working long hours.The results could be particularly concerning for Brits, who work the longest hours in Europe.

READ MORE: Why we should be “coasting” at work

Full-time UK workers put in an average of 42 hours a week – compared with just 39 hours in Holland, Italy, Belgium, France, Sweden and Ireland, according to Trades Union Congress figures first published in April.

And while French workers benefit from specific protections that enforce their “right to disconnect” outside of work hours, Brits often feel pressured to respond to emails or other issues after hours.

Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary criticised this “long hours” culture, saying it “is nothing to be proud of”.

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"It's robbing workers of a decent home life and time with their loved ones,” O’Grady explained. “Overwork, stress and exhaustion have become the new normal.”

She added: “Other countries have shown that reducing working hours isn't only good for workers, it can boost productivity.”

Despite working longer hours than any other EU nation, the UK ranked just 14th in productivity – reflecting a national crisis continues to deepen.