Longer working hours linked to increased risk for atrial fibrillation

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People who work longer hours have an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF), according to new research published in the European Heart Journal. 

After analysing data on more than 85,000 men and women from the UK, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, who took part in the Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis in Working Populations (IPD-Work) Consortium study, compared to people who worked a normal week of between 35-40 hours, those who worked 55 hours or more were approximately 40 per cent more likely to develop AF during the following 10 years. Adjustment for potential confounding factors, such as obesity, risky alcohol use, and hypertension, had little impact on this association. 

Nine out of 10 cases of AF occurred in people who were free of pre-existing or concurrent cardiovascular disease. Lead author, Professor Mika Kivimaki from the Department of Epidemiology at University College London said the finding suggests the increased risk is likely to reflect the effect of long working hours rather than the effect of any pre-existing or concurrent cardiovascular disease, but further research is needed to understand the mechanisms involved.